UCSB kicked off Black History Month with an array of cultural and historical events and has more on the way.

The events, which include concerts, film screenings and presentations, aim to celebrate African-American culture while educating students and faculty members about crucial issues within the community. According to Clyde Woods, acting director of the UCSB Center for Black Studies Research and assistant professor of black studies, Black History Month is a time for reflection and growth.

“This is a time of sharing information and knowledge, as well as reflecting on the past and what needs to be done in the future,” Woods said. “We need to be aware that the issues of racism still exist and we need to be conscious that there are things we have to do to fight them.”

Davidson Library’s Ethnic and Gender Studies Library is hosting a month-long exhibition titled “The African Diaspora: Ties That Bind” in honor of Black History Month. The Black Student Union will also be hosting its annual outreach program, which invites K-12 students to tour the UCSB campus and learn the importance of an academic and cultural education, from Feb. 17-19.

Upcoming events also include a panel discussion on voodoo practices in Haiti on Feb. 24 at noon at the Center for Black Studies Research. Furthermore, the MultiCultural Center will be screening “Traces of Trade: A Story from the Deep South,” a documentary which follows filmmaker Katrina Browne as she discovers her identity as a descendent of the largest slave-trading family in American history, the same day at 6 p.m.

Wade Roof, the J.F. Rowny Chair in Religion and Society and director of the Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion and Public Life, said Black History Month events are crucial to the community’s understanding of lingering racial struggles.

“Black History Month, as well as events relating to other minorities, helps educate us about the legacies of injustices,” Roof said. “We all need to know more about institutionalized racism, both historically and at present.”

Woods also said understanding the African-American experience is crucial to appreciating the American experience.

“Because of the conditions they have been put through, African-Americans have always pushed for political, social and cultural democracy,” Woods said. “The reason why Black History Month is a national designation is that black history is an essential part of American history. You can’t know your own country without knowing black history.”