The Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) celebrates the beginning of Black History Month today with a ceremony in Storke Plaza.

The opening ceremony, which features the theme for this year’s Black History Month, Celebrating Community: A Tribute to Black Fraternal, Social and Civic Institutions, commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first African-American fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha. The hour-long event begins at noon.

EOP’s African American Cultural Services EOP Coordinator Candice Brooks said she, along with three EOP student interns, organized the event with the intention of including the whole campus.

“It’s not an EOP thing, it’s not a black thing,” Brooks said, “It’s a UCSB thing.”

The ceremony features speeches from Black Studies Dept. lecturer Otis Madison, Associated Students President and fourth-year sociology major Chaz Whatley, and Alpha Phi Alpha member and fourth-year law & society major Iheanyi Nkwocha. Also, third-year psychology major Joanna Thomas will sing the black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Brooks said events such as today’s tribute show prospective black students that UCSB is a supportive community. She said all students, especially those in an extreme minority, need to have a group on campus with which to identify.

According to the UCSB website, about three percent of this university’s student population is black, which is lower than both the state and national averages. The U.S. Census Bureau indicates that 6.7 percent of California’s population and 13.4 percent of the U.S. population is black.

Black History Month was founded in 1926 originally as “Negro History Week” by Carter G. Woodson – the second African-American to earn a doctorate in history from Harvard University.

Woodson was concerned that black people were portrayed throughout history as side characters, rather than active participants. Because of this, he sought to promote greater knowledge of black achievements and historical figures.

The month of February was chosen as Black History Month because it includes the birthdays of both President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass.

Other Black History Month-related events occurring today include two events sponsored by African American Cultural Services. The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Santa Barbara opens the African Heritage Display of Manuscripts & Inventors Exhibit at 10 a.m., and at 8 p.m., Kwame Anthony Appiah, author of In My Father’s House, will present a lecture in Campbell Hall.

Also, the MultiCultural Center Lounge will host two Black History Month events in the near future as part of its “Race Matters” series. On Feb. 9 at 6:30 p.m., UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Marlon M. Bailey and UCSB Women Studies Program assistant professor Mireille Miller-Young will discuss sexuality, AIDS and hip-hop in relation to black culture

On Feb. 21 at 6:30 p.m., 98.7 KPFK FM’s “Divine Forces Radio” host Fidel Rodriguez will discuss racial stereotypes in the media.

Other upcoming Black History Month events can be found on the Office of Student Life’s website calendar at