An open discussion on Black history

Panel speakers (from left to right): Elijah Burch, Zayda Storm, Julian Johnson, Jordan Record, Madonna Pinkard and Chryshanna Jackson Leftwich. Photo By Billy-Jack Colón / The Jambar

By Billy-Jack Colón / The Jambar

Organizations at Youngstown State University hosted a panel on Black History Month from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 13 in The Hub of Kilcawley Center.

Panelists from Student Activities, Black Student Union and African Caribbean Student Union gathered to talk about representation, acceptance and how Black history is taught at YSU. 

One panelist was Madonna Pinkard, WFMJ’s Community Relations director and adjunct professor of communications. Pinkard said she believes YSU needs to incorporate Black history courses. 

 “I would like to see a Black history course taught on the campus of Youngstown State University, not African history, not Africana — Black history,” Pinkard said.

The panel also discussed the lack of Black educators in local schools. Pinkard said students can write to the Board of Education if they feel their school lacks representation. 

“If you’re unhappy with it, write to the Board of Education saying ‘I’d like to see you hire a Black teacher,’” Pinkard said. 

Audience members could participate in the conversation. Several attendees asked panelists their opinions on topics such as the perception of race, microaggressions, macroaggressions, systemic oppression and more. 

Chryshanna Jackson Leftwich, professor of politics and international relations, was on the panel. Jackson Leftwich said society constructed the idea of race. 

“We talk about race, but we all know race is a social construct. We know that the reason race is on your grandfather’s birth certificate, on my mom’s birth certificate, but not on mine — it is because the government was dealing with discrimination based on that,” Jackson Leftwich said.

Elijah Burch, graduate assistant and athletic academic advisor, was a panelist who discussed his upbringing with a multiracial household. 

 “I’ve had a different experience since I grew up in a multiracial household. My mother is white, Irish-Polish, and my dad is Black. I had no choice but to constantly integrate,” Burch said.

Guests could also find quotes from popular Black figures on cards scattered on The Hub’s tables and enter a giveaway to win books and other prizes.

Jackson Leftwich said students who want to learn more about African Americans can participate in local events, such as those hosted by BSU or African American churches.

“Going to some of the different events that are more of a fun setting and not always an ‘Oh, we’re gonna learn something’ setting, where you can kind of relax in a social setting. I think that’s a good start,” Jackson Leftwich said.

The panel also included Jordan Record of the Student Affairs Program, BSU President Julian Johnson and Student Government Association Rep. Zayda Storm.

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