Mason Family Flash

Mason Celebrates Black and African Heritage Month

We are excited to share the many wonderful programs and events brought to you by Mason student organizations, departments/units, and academic colleges. Black/African Heritage Month is under the leadership of Student Engagement for Racial Justice within Mason’s Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment.

During the summer of 2020 and presently, we have received an outpouring of support and programmatic ideas that centered Black and African Diasporic Student Communities due to the racial unrest that swept the nation. This February, our University community has created programming that centers and uplifts the wellbeing of Black life on our campus. These programs highlight storytelling, heritage, allyship, reflection, activism, appreciation, history, advocacy, resilience or strength.

This year’s theme, Sankofa – Reaching Back to Better Shape Our Future, was intentionally chosen by students in light of all that our communities have endured globally. “Sankofa” is a metaphorical symbol of a bird with its head turned backwards which originated by the Akan people of Ghana. The word is derived from the words: SAN (return), KO (go), and FA (look, seek, and take). The Akan believe that the past serves as our guide for the future and that there is wisdom in learning from the past to ensure a strong future. As we enter a space of healing, restoration, and a search for peace, it is imperative that we, as a community, use the metaphorical symbol of Sankofa to learn from our past and embrace our history to better shape our future for our current communities and for generations to come.

Mason proudly upholds the celebration of what we call Black/African Heritage Month by hosting annual events that are educational, inspirational, and inclusive of the diversity of the Mason community. Founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the United States began its recognition of black history in 1926 with the celebration of “Negro History Week” The week was initially created to recognize the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, both of which are in February. In 1976, the celebration was expanded to be inclusive of the entire month of February. We are honored to be able to continue to uphold the traditions set forth by those before us.

We are grateful for our many cultural and historically Black student organizations who have crafted and cultivated communities of care for Black life at Mason. Organizations such as the Black, African-Heritage, and Caribbean Coalition, Black Student Alliance, GMU NAACP, Black Justice Association, African Student Association, Anointed Vessels of Unity, Brains Then Beauty, Lights Out, Chase Dreams Not Boys, Women of Color in STEM, GMU QTPOC, National Council of Negro Women, Collegiate Black Men, Caribbean Student Association, Rated R, Lights Out, and all of our Black Greek Lettered Organizations. We admire their resilience and commitment to serving their peers in light of this pandemic and the many social issues impacting their communities.

We hope you will join us the rest of this month and beyond, as this is more than a moment, it is a movement. To access the full Black/African Heritage Month calendar, visit This year’s calendar features virtual movie screenings, mindfulness and wellness workshops, dialogues, panels, and much more!

Crystal Davidson
Assistant Director
Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment

*To receive more articles like this straight to your inbox, sign up for the Mason Family Association at