Black History Month: Students speak up on most influential African-American

February 6, 2012 Feature Print Print

Most students name Barack Obama as the most influential African-American living today. Some students accredit it to his position in power.

February is Black History Month. It’s an opportunity to pay tribute to the generations of African-Americans who courageously dealt with difficulties to secure freedom and citizenship.

A couple of journalists walked the campus, asking students‘ opinions on  “Who do you think is the most influential African-American today?”

After polling numerous students, the individual receiving the most recognition was President Barack Obama.

Many conceded it was mainly due to his position which provides a lot of exposure, but one student went a step further to clarify her response.

“I would say President Barack Obama,” said Jo Burris, kinesiology major.

“As a woman of color, [it’s] just seeing the change he’s trying to bring to our country and what it shows the new generations.”

Community holds events during Black History Month

Many events are being held in Oklahoma City to recognize and celebrate Black History Month. Below is a partial list of these activities and for more, visit our website at All events are free and open to all ages unless otherwise noted.

Black History Month Trivia (Feb. 1 through 29)
Ralph Ellison Library
2000 NE 23 St.

Throughout the month of February, visitors of all ages can stop in the Ralph Ellison Library to answer Black History Month trivia questions. Visitors who answer all questions correctly could win a special prize. Visitors can participate in the trivia contest whenever the library is open. For more information or for hours of operation, call 405-424-1437.

Celebrate Black History Month (Feb. 13) Southern Oaks Library
2914 SW 59 St.

Southern Oaks Library will be hosting a read-in from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13, by sharing books authored by an African American writers. Books, reading lists, and educational materials will be provided. Refreshments will be served. Space is limited. To register, call 405-631-4468 or stop by the reference desk.

History of Black Music Display (Feb. 1 through 29)
Ralph Ellison Library
2000 NE 23 St.

For the month of February, the Ralph Ellison Library in Oklahoma City is featuring a display on the rich and varied history of black music in America. The display will highlight artists like Scott Joplin, Duke Ellington, and Ray Charles. Display is up for viewing whenever the library is open. For more information or for hours of operation, call 405-424-1437.

Rhythmically Speaking Presents: Sitting in with Clara ( Dates vary)
Various metropolitan libraries

In this hour-long presentation, visitors aged 8 and up can attend this history lesson in honor of civic leader Clara Luper. This event will be held at various Metropolitan libraries throughout the month of February. For a complete list of times and locations, visit

Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, is tops for one student.

“I love how he used Dr. Martin Luther King’s principles to end apartheid in South Africa and changed the status quo,” said Zach Sumner, business major.
Ian Baker, petroleum and engineering major, had two picks.

“Herman Cain and Barack Obama, mainly because of the publicity and Cain is a strong voice on the other side of the issues of Obama.”

A number of students had no response. David Henson, networking and technician major, was one.

“No one currently,” Henson said. “Most are idols like NBA stars, rappers and musicians.”

Other prominent figures chosen were Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington, Jennifer Hudson, Michelle Obama, Morgan Freeman, Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Still others, such as OCCC student Rebekah Davis, took a different approach, saying she knew most would say President Barack Obama, but for her, the most influential are her parents.

To contact Yvonne Alex, email

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