HPU to celebrate Black History Month

black_history_month_chapel_2013_for_webBROWNWOOD – January 29, 2014 – Howard Payne University will celebrate Black History Month in February with a special chapel service at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 5, at the university’s Mims Auditorium. The public is invited to attend as students and alumni of the university commemorate the “Golden Jubilee” celebration of the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

“This program is designed to be educational as well as entertaining,” said Wilbert Rogers, a 1975 HPU graduate and coordinator of the service each year.

Rogers and other members of the African-American Chapter of the HPU Alumni Association have been hard at work writing and rehearsing the program. Rogers writes the scripts based on topics provided by the National Black History Month organization and assigns parts to have as many participants as possible.

Dr. Brent Marsh, vice president for student life and dean of students, reported that the Black History Month program has been a wonderful addition to the spring semester chapel schedule and encourages involvement by current HPU students.

“This program provides a wonderful opportunity for current students to connect with alumni as together they provide a chapel program which will educate and inspire,” he said.

Gladys Murray, a 1980 alumna of the university, organizes the program and manages the technology used during the service.

“Most of all, we hope to educate the students and other attendees on black history, opening their eyes to the issues that we had to encounter to get laws passed so that they did not have to suffer through these issues,” she said. “We also hope to instill in them that violence is not the way to get things done.”

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin and aimed to replace the longstanding “separate but equal” doctrine which permitted racial segregation.

“It is important for each student to realize his or her potential,” Murray said. “Black History Month is not only for the black people. It was created for all people to become equal. Even today, our success is not because of the color of our skin. We must look past this and see the best in everyone.”

In addition to the HPU performance, the service will be presented the same day at Brownwood High School at 2:00 p.m. in the auditorium. The community is invited to attend either performance.

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Photo cutline: HPU junior Zacchaeus Steidel-Santiago sang “If I Can Help Somebody” during the university’s Black History Month chapel service last year.