MLK Scholars Discuss Black History Month

Stern first-year Aliya Brooks credits Yara Shahidi and Zendaya as inspirational black figures in her life.

It is more than halfway through Black History Month, and NYU has celebrated with various events thus far, including Martin Luther King Jr. Week. For Black History Month, three MLK Scholars discussed what this month means to them. Stern freshman Aliya Brooks, Gallatin sophomore Christian Pierre-Louis and Gallatin freshman Nina Hay expressed their passions for social justice in regards to black history.

These MLK Scholars are concerned with issues at the forefront of political consciousness. Brooks is concerned about corporate racism and corruption, Hay wishes for a more diverse fashion industry that caters to people of all different shades and backgrounds and Pierre-Louis focuses on the school to prison pipeline and mass incarceration of people of color.

Since MLK Scholars is a group that nurtures leaders to bring about an envisioned community of social equality and economic justice, it seems natural to engage them in a conversation about a month that celebrates black revolutionaries who pushed for change throughout their lives.

Black History Month gives us a chance to reflect on the past and think about the future, which these three students do in this Q&A.


What does Black History Month mean to you?

Brooks: Learning more about the accomplishments that black people have achieved that have been overlooked in this country throughout all of time, or searching for the smaller people that should really be acknowledged whose accomplishments were taken by white people and to be aware of that and honor it.

Pierre-Louis: It’s a time where we especially pay homage to a lot of people who paved the way and a lot of people who contributed to progress in terms of civil rights, cultural achievements and things that were done to uplift our community.

Hay: I feel like if Black History was to be done right, it would be more about empowerment, and I would also give a voice to the people who are voiceless because a lot of black history is oral history that isn’t written down. Black history is passed on through the stories that our mothers or our grandmothers, our fathers, our grandfathers tell us, and those stories are so important to collect in terms of understanding the diaspora.

Who has been an influential black figure in your life?

Brooks: I really love Yara Shahidi and Zendaya because they are women in social media and in media that are extremely monumental in letting other people be aware of different causes, and they pursue activism very heavily. I think everyone should use their platform and their voice in order to create a positive impact on the world.

Pierre-Louis: My father. He’s very level-headed, but at the same time, he is very stern. I look to him when I want to be a leader but also someone who is compassionate. And [entrepreneur] Madam C.J. Walker, just because I really want to go into entrepreneurship, I see myself starting my own business, and she did that doing the things that she loved.

Hay: My grandmother and my mom and my dad. I feel like just having my parents and my family as a role model has just taught me how to redefine my own values.

How do you think black movements will evolve under this administration and going forward?

Hay: Under the Trump administration, things are just going to be halted at the moment, legally, but I still think that with the Trump administration, we are still going to have so many things going on underground … that doesn’t take away from the light that we are shining because stuff is changing. I see it every day.

Brooks: I think that we need to mobilize together and actually work to really hit the pockets of people who are racist and obviously on the wrong side of corporate business.

Pierre-Louis: I think people are starting to be more vocal about their opinions … the reason being that people are so opposed to [Trump]. I think in the future, we are going to be more utopian than dystopian.

Email Jendayi Omowale at [email protected].



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