Black History Month: Author Edition

Written by: Amber Baldwin

With it being Black History Month, it is important to highlight a variety of important historical events and gifted black people who played a part in history. Here are a few black authors that help create wonderful works of poetry and literature. I asked two credible people on campus what authors and works that they would recommend to Defiance College students.

Barb Sedlock, Lead Librarian, and Coordinator of Metadata & Archives said, “being a history buff, I’d recommend some of the earlier works in the African American canon, like W.E.B. DuBois, Sojourner Truth, and poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, who was an Ohioan.”

Dr. Steven Engel, Assistant Professor of English and Director of Composition, suggested his top 10 list of great black authors. It includes Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist, Colson Whitehead, Zone One, Jericho Brown, The Tradition, Claudia Rankine, Citizen, Mat Johnson, Incognegro, Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give, Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist, Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones, Toni Morrison, Beloved, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me.

Some of these books along with others by black authors can be found in the free little library in Schauffler Hall throughout the month of February.

The following black authors are somewhat unknown but achieved some amazing accomplishments.

Rita Dove
Rita Dove, who was born in Akron, Ohio, is known for her poems.  She even was the poet laureate of the United States from 1993 to 1995 and then was the poet laureate of Virginia from 2004 to 2006.  She also won a Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 1987 and is the only poet to receive both the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of Arts.  Some of her works are Through the Ivory Gate, The Yellow House on the Corner, On the Bus with Rosa Parks, Mother Love, and Grace Notes.  As of right now, Rita Dove is an English professor at the University of Virginia.  

Gwendolyn Brooks
Gwendolyn Brooks was 13 when she first got published.  Then, by the time she was 17 she was being published regularly in the Chicago Defender.  In 1950 she became the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize in poetry.  She was also the first African American woman to be a poetry consultant to the Library of Congress.  Some of her works include A Street in Bronzeville, Annie Allen, Maud Martha, In the Mecca, and Winnie.

Alex Haley
Alex Haley wrote The Autobiography of Malcolm X.  It was published in 1965.  Haley is also well known for Roots: The Saga of an American Family.  Barb Sedlock said, “watching the original miniseries based on Alex Haley’s “Roots” back in the 70s had a big impact on me.  I was in college at the time, and the show made me want to learn more of the history, so I bought the book and especially enjoyed reading the parts that didn’t make it into the miniseries–it’s impossible to include everything in a novel when it’s turned into a TV show or movie, there’s just too much material.”

Valentine’s Day–It’s actually not a holiday made up by Hallmark

Written by: Emily Vargo

Every year, Valentine’s day is celebrated on February 14th in the United States. It is known as the day of love where people buy candy, cards, and flowers for others to show that they appreciate them. But have you ever wondered how Valentine’s Day started? I asked a few Defiance College students on campus if they had any idea of the history of Valentine’s Day.

The first student I asked was Sarah, a Freshman at DC, who said “It’s a modern day holiday to appreciate your significant other.”

“ A long time ago they took a day and dedicated it to love so they could celebrate their significant others and show how much they care for one another through romantic gestures” stated Megan, also a freshman at DC.

A third student who wanted to be anonymous thought that, “Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and the bond that it represents.

Some believe love is just human nature and it makes sense for people to get attached and fall in love, so why not have a day to celebrate it and make it known. However, Valentine’s day is more than a holiday about love and gifts.

Valentine’s day is named after St. Valentine. According to historians, St. Valentine was a priest in the Catholic Church who served during the third century in Rome.

During this time Emperor Claudius II thought single men were better soldiers than those who had wives and children. The Emperor outlawed marriage for young men so they could be better soldiers. St. Valentine felt that this wasn’t right or fair. In secret, he performed marriages behind the Emperor so couples could be together.

Eventually, the emperor found out what Valentine was doing and sentenced him to death. Some say that Valentine was killed for attempting to help Rome prisoners escape because they were often beaten and tortured, not for marrying couples behind the Emperor’s back. Others say an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” to a girl he fell in love with that would visit him during his confinement.

The exact date of the holiday is unknown but St. Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France by the middle ages. Valentine’s Day may not have a pretty history but every year it is celebrated by millions of people in the name of romance.

BASA Month Long Celebration

Written by: AD Johnson

February is Black History Month, and at Defiance College, BASA, Black Action Student Association has activities planned all month long in celebration. “For every event and activity you participate in, you will be entered into our raffle for a giveaway at the end of February,” Noelani Schmidt said in an email.

From BASA email

From February 3 till February 18, BASA is featuring an exhibit called Honoring Black Lives: Past, Present, and Future that is located in the Women’s Commission Art Gallery. “This installation is both an art exhibition and a community altar/sacred space,” stated Schmidt. The gallery is located in Dana Hall near the auditorium. It is open Monday – Friday from 9:00am till 7:00pm and Saturday 9:00am – 2:00pm.

Another way to participate in the celebrations is by following BASA’s Instagram @defi.basa and Twitter @blackactionstu1

Everyone can be involved in the different activities, including Mindful Mondays, Workshop Wednesdays, Feel Good Fridays, Self Care Saturdays, and Speak your truth Sundays that include interviews of black students speaking their truths.

From the Gallery Exhibit

Schmidt stated, “From contests to workshops and giveaways, we’re excited to have you join us in promoting healing, mental health awareness, all the while celebrating and honoring Black lives.”

Black History Month Spotlight

Written by: Amber Baldwin

Cicely Tyson 12/19/1924-01/28/2021

“Whatever good I have accomplished as an actress, I believe, came in direct proportion to my efforts to portray Black women who have made positive contributions to my heritage.”-Cicely Tyson.

Cicely Tyson was an award-winning actress who passed away last week at the age of 96.  She was a fashion model and actress that was best known for her roles in “Sounder” (1972), “The Autobiography of Miss Pittman” (1974), “Roots” (1977), “The Marva Collins Story” (1981), “The Women of Brewster Place” (1989), and “The Help” (2011).  

The movie “Sounder” also starred Diana Ross, and both ended up nominated for “Best Actress in a Leading Role.” It was only the second time African American actresses were nominated for this award. The first being Dorothy Dandridge in 1954. 

Her career began in 1948 as a model. Then, in 1951 she received her first acting role in a TV show called “Frontiers of Faith.” From there, she mostly played in other TV shows like “The Guiding Light” (1966). In 1972, her popularity increased when she got the role of Rebecca Morgan in the movie “Sounder.”

Some of Cicely Tyson’s awards include a Tony Award, multiple Emmy Awards, an Academy Honorary Award, The Peabody Career Achievement Award, The Spingarn Medal, and many others.  

The award that she finds most important to her is The Presidential Medal of Freedom that she received in 2016 from President Barack Obama.  

One of Cicely Tyson’s last projects that she was working on was her memoir Just As I Am. It came out just two days before her death and is now No. 1 on Amazon, beating out the previous No.1, The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman. 

A student here at DC said, “I’ve been a fan of Cicely Tyson for a while now. She’s in one of my favorite movies “Fried Green Tomatoes.” Her memoir looks really good, and I’m very tempted to buy a copy.” Cicely Tyson will be remembered as a wonderful actress and person who paved the way for other African American actresses. 

The History of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Written by Amber Baldwin


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Every third Monday in January the United States celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  This federal holiday was first observed in 1986.  It also became the first holiday that is centered around someone who is not a president and someone who is African American. 

Dr. Richanne C. Mankey, Defiance College President, shared her thoughts on the importance of Martin Luther King Jr Day by stating, “Yes, it is important to honor the vision of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

“His inspiration was for humanity to become increasingly more inclusive” Dr. Mankey continued.

“He spoke to the character of human beings rather than other features like race or ethnicity. His quote about his children and the world into which they would grow up was powerful:  “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character..” from his I Have a Dream speech.” quoted Dr. Mankey.

Even though Dr. King spoke powerful words and lead a life of strong conviction, the celebration of the holiday took almost 20 years.

The federal holiday was first introduced to legislation on April 8, 1968, four days after King’s death, by Representative John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan. 

Then, in the 1970’s the support for this holiday increased, but it was not enough. The bill lost by five votes in the House in November of 1979. The people who were in disagreement viewed King as someone who created trouble, so they did not want to give him his own holiday. 

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Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King, who was married to King, still decided to keep fighting and ended up testifying before Congress many times. 

Stevie Wonder even worked with Coretta Scott King to gain even more support.  In 1982 both of them brought a petition with 6 million signatures that were all for the holiday to the Speaker of the House. 

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Coretta Scott King and Stevie Wonder accepting an award

The bill was finally signed by President Ronald Reagan on November 3, 1983, to begin the holiday in 1986. 

By 1986 seventeen states had already created a holiday for Marth Luther King, Jr.  Now many businesses, government offices, and schools are closed on this federal holiday. 

“For most of my life, it was a day off school that I didn’t really understand. Now, I like to reflect on one of the best activists the world had ever seen”, a fellow college student remarked about how they spent the day.

However, there are still some cities in some states like Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina that do not observe the holiday and use it as a make-up school day.

Challenges Faced by DC Students Who Stay During Breaks

Written by: MaKayah Long

The sidewalks snaking across campus appear abandoned. Buildings are dark and quiet. Nearly empty parking lots signify to outsiders that the college is closed for winter break. Although classes are not in session during these times, a significant number of students can still be found on the Defiance College campus over academic breaks.

More than 80 students registered for winter break housing according to the Office of Residence Life. While most of these students are winter athletes, some have other reasons to stick around. Sophomore Mikeaya McLaurin stayed on campus in order to keep working at her local job. McLaurin shared that the best part of staying during the break was “that it was relaxing and silent.” She notes that the worst part is that “the break is very long”. Because of COVID, winter break is an extra week longer than normal.

The dining hall is closed over breaks, meaning students are responsible for purchasing and preparing their own meals. McLaurin stated another issue is with all the necessary purchases of “so much fast food.

If students do not wish to get take out, cooking areas are provided by the college however, there are challenges and differences in cooking in a residence hall than at home.

Residential students are allowed a microwave and mini-fridge in their rooms, but no appliances with exposed heating elements such as toasters or electric skillets. Therefore most cooking needs to be done elsewhere.

Both McReynolds and Whitney residence halls offer students access to an oven, stove, and microwave. In the three story residence halls, transporting food, dishes, and cookware back and forth for each meal can become quite the chore depending on what floor the student lives.

Dishes must be done promptly, as any left in the sink over 24 hours can be thrown away. There is not a set supply of dishes, utensils, or cookware for students to use in the kitchens.

When asked if she could change one thing about living on campus over break, Mikeaya McLaurin suggested “a kitchen on every floor, so I don’t have to go to the second floor to cook”.

“That extra cost can be difficult to manage for some students,” said Lisa Marsalek, Dean of Student Life. “We have been able to provide some food assistance thanks to our Jacket Care Corner food pantry over the last two years.” The Jacket Care Corner food pantry, located in Hubbard Hall 103, provides currently enrolled students with food, laundry products, school supplies, and personal hygiene items.

Housing rules are just as important over breaks, but they are different than during the normal semesters. Tighter security is being maintained due to reduced staff and students as well as COVID-19 concerns. Winter break residents agree to no guests. They also continue to follow COVID safety protocol, such as wearing masks outside of their room.

“We have had to remove students from break housing due to not following safety rules,” Dean Marsalek stated.

Winter break residents are also required to be COVID tested on either January 15th or January 18th, the same as students who went home for the break.

Not so Typical Holiday Movies To Watch This Year

Written by: Amber Baldwin

It’s that time of year where many people watch their favorite holiday movies.  TV channels like Freeform and Hallmark play Christmas movies 24/7 leading up to Christmas. 

Many families watch holiday classics like A Charlie Brown Christmas and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.  Trisha, a student here at DC, said her favorite Christmas movie is The GrinchNester the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey is another favorite.

If you are someone who enjoys being festive and watching movies, here are some underrated or forgotten holiday movies that you should watch over winter break this year.

Little Women (1933, 1949, 1994, & 2019)

Little Women: There are four different versions of this movie but all are based on the book Little Women written by Louisa May Alcott.  In this sweet story, the March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, transform from childhood to adulthood with guidance from their mother, who they call Marmee.  All versions of Little Women can be found on Amazon Prime Video.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Meet Me In St. Louis: Seventeen-year-old Esther Smith falls in love with the shy boy-next-door, John Truitt.  Esther is played by Judy Garland, who played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.  The classic Christmas song, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” was written for this movie. Meet Me in St. Louis can be watched through HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video.

White Christmas (1954)

A White Christmas: Performers Bob Wallace and Phil Davis fall in love with a sister act made up of Betty and Judy Haynes.  The four then try to help save an inn in Vermont that is run by the men’s former commanding general from WWII.  White Christmas was the first movie to be shot in Vista Vision and can be found on Netflix. 

Mame (1974)

Mame: This movie is starring Lucille Ball from I Love Lucy.  She plays Mame Dennis, who ends up being the guardian to her nephew after her brother passes away.  Throughout her life, she relies on her best friend Vera Charles, played by Bea Arthur from The Golden Girls. The famous song “We need a Little Christmas” was written for this show. Mame is on Amazon Prime Video.

A Garfield Christmas (1987)

Garfield’s Christmas In this cartoon, Garfield, Odie, and their owner Jon head to Jon’s parents’ farmhouse to spend Christmas with Jon’s family.  This Christmas special can be found for free on The Official Garfield YouTube Channel.

Prancer (1989)

Prancer:An eight-year-old farm girl believes that the wounded reindeer that has shown up belongs to Santa Claus, so she tries to help it so that it is better in time for Christmas.  Prancer can be watched on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.

Elmo Saves Christmas (1996)

Elmo Saves Christmas: Elmo receives a snow globe from Santa and wishes for it to be Christmas every day, but then soon realizes that it was not the best decision to do that.  This movie is perfect for anyone who is feeling nostalgic.  Also, the movie’s narrator is Maya Angelou.  Elmo Saves Christmas is on HBO Max.

Samantha:  An American Girl Holiday (2004)

Samantha:  An American Girl Holiday: This is another perfect movie for anyone who is feeling nostalgic.  It’s 1904 and Samantha Parkington becomes friends with three girls who work as maids for the next-door neighbors.  This movie is based on the American Girl doll Samantha’s book series.  You can watch this movie for free through AMC if you have cable TV, but you can also rent it through Amazon Prime Video. 

Last Holiday (2006)

Last Holiday: Georgia Byrd, played by Queen Latifah, finds out some devastating news. So she sells everything she owns and spends all of her money on a vacation of a lifetime before it’s too late.  This can be found on Hulu.

Carol (2015)

Carol: In the early 1950s, Therese Belivet, works for Frankenberg department store. She falls in love with an older, wealthy, married woman named Carol Aird in New York City. Their relationship causes many complications in their lives. This movie can be found on Netflix.