College schedules events for Black History Month

Focus is on conversation to find common ground and respect 

Seward County Community College will observe Black History Month with a variety of events throughout February. With “Coffee & Conversation” sessions Tuesday and Feb. 21, SCCC students, faculty and staff, and the community can enjoy free coffee and donuts at 10 a.m. in the Student Union. Black History Month guests will share their life experiences in segregated schools, growing up in the Deep South during the Jim Crow era, and professional lives during the Civil Rights and integration movements. 

SCCC aquatics class member Sarah Odom, left, talks with guest speaker Autry Coleman at the first “Coffee & Conversation” casual forum scheduled during Black History Month at SCCC.

At the first “Coffee & Conversation” discussion, a group of local retirees and college employees engaged in a lively discussion with guest speaker Autry Coleman about the use of the “N” word, and life experiences with friends, fellow military servicemen, and neighbors of different races.

“We have to keep making progress,” said community member and SCCC aquatics class member Sarah Odom. Having grown up in the 1930s in Alabama as a minority white member of a largely black community, Odom said she believes it is possible for people to find common ground. 

SCCC advising coordinator Patsy Fischer, who grew up in an Oklahoma community with a “sundown” law (no black people could be within city limits after dark) said she’s thankful to witness changes in American culture. 

“When I brought a friend home from college who was black, people were kind of shocked,” she said. “It’s amazing to see how many different races and nationalities we bring together on our college campus today.”

“These events provide a valuable service to our community, building understanding between people with different life experiences,” said SCCC President, Dr. Ken Trzaska. “Perhaps more important, they put into action our core values of trust, integrity, and valuing others.”

During several class sessions, local speakers will participate in question-and-answer sessions with students.

“I love having guests like this in my U.S. Government class,” said instructor Chris Perkins. “There’s something about hearing from a person who lived through these historic events that brings it alive to the students, and they really enjoy it.” 

During the first scheduled class appearance, students from the SCCC student newspaper “Crusader” attended and live-tweeted about the discussion. 

Other sessions will bring speakers to Jazz Appreciation, Public Speaking, Ethics and U.S. history classes.  Community members who are interested in participating as speakers should contact Rachel Coleman at the office of public relations, (620) 417-1125.

For those who prefer a “do it yourself” experience, the current exhibit on display at the SCCC library might be just the ticket. The library is proud to present a traveling exhibit, “The Tuskegee Airmen: The Segregated Skies of WWII” traveling exhibit. The eight standing panels in the display trace the history and heroism of the first African-American pilots to fly in combat during World War II.  Between 1941 and 1946, what became known as the “Tuskegee experiment” trained more than 1,000 pilots.  Although required to train and fight in segregated units, the Tuskegee Airmen proved to be some of the most skilled aviators during the war.

“The undeniable courage and skill of these brave pilots contributed to the desegregation of the United States Armed Forces in 1948,” the exhibit recounts.  

The panels are on display through Feb. 24, during regular library hours.  For more information, contact the SCCC Library at or (620) 417-1160.

The college also encourages students and staff members to attend and participate in events sponsored by the Liberal Black History Committee. These include the annual free “Taste Fest” at 3 p.m. Sunday, at the Ag Building on the Seward County Fairgrounds; a Black History Beauty Pageant at 3 p.m. Feb. 19, in the SCCC Showcase Theater; and the Black History Committee Community Choir Gospel Concert, at 3 p.m. Feb. 26, at Bibleway Church of God in Christ, at 410 E. Eighth St. The college will also be the site of the Rosa Parks Scholarship Banquet, set for 6 p.m. Feb. 25, in SU 229. Tickets for the formal attire event can be purchased in advance for $20. For more information, contact Melody Green at (620) 417-4102. That event is organized and sponsored by the Black History Committee. 

SCCC believes events like Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage month are not just for members of minority groups, but beneficial to the whole community. 

“These events provide a valuable service to our community, building understanding between people with different life experiences,” said SCCC President, Dr. Ken Trzaska. “Perhaps more important, they put into action our core values of trust, integrity, and valuing others.” 

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