OU students celebrate “Actively Empowering Yourself”

Ariel Themm, Staff Reporter

On Jan. 22, student organizations Actively Moving Forward  (AMF) and L.O.V.E. Naturally combined efforts to host Actively Empowering Yourself, one of the many events on campus honoring African-American Celebration Month (AACM).

AMF is a support group for those handling death, illness or suicide of a loved one. They also bring service events to campus to educate the community and destigmatize conversations around grief. L.O.V.E. Naturally is a women’s empowerment, natural hair social group that promotes the love of natural hair, self esteem, positive body image and encouragement for college students. L.O.V.E. stands for Lifting Our Very Existence. Although catered to young college women, they also serve men and women of all hair types.

This year marked the first time the two groups hosted Actively Empowering Yourself as part of AACM. The month-long celebration reflects OU’s ongoing commitment to celebrate the historical and cultural contributions that African-Americans have made in the past, present and future.

During the event, the groups addressed how to handle adversities that people of color (POC) face at predominantly white institutions (PWI), as well as exploring ways people of color can overcome those struggles.

“We believe that it is important for students of color, and all students, to feel comfortable in their own skin and their surrounding environments,” Kessia Graves, the President of L.O.V.E. Naturally, said. “We understand that underrepresented students aren’t always comfortable in light of what has been happening in our country. We hope that this event gives all students the platform to voice their thoughts and concerns, as well as motivate them and encourage them to be supportive of one another.”

This event focused on POC groups and how to face different obstacles, but both student orgs encouraged people of any race to attend in hopes of educating and assisting fellow peers.

“A personal mission I have is to educate the audience on black issues and empowerment to where they can then educate others within their circles of influence,” said Alex Currington, president of AMF.

The collaboration for this celebrated month had the goal of empowering students and encouraging others to make the change that is wanted and needed for the community. The unity among students during the event was intended to ensure the campus will continue to be an accepting place for all students.

“Research has found that African-American students have a particularly difficult time adjusting when enrolled in predominantly white institutions, as opposed to predominantly black institutions,” Currington said. Our goal is to offer a mental and emotional perspective on the issues surrounding people of color, as well as ways they can overcome those issues.”

African-American Celebration Month continues through Feb. 14. For more information, visit the Center for Multicultural Initiatives webpage.