Black History Interview Series | Stephanie Seda

Stephanie Seda
Stephanie Seda is a senior studying early childhood education at UGA. She serves as a student greeter and is a vital voice of love and truth in our body. In this conversation, Stephanie tells us about her experiences with Black History Month.

Q: What does BHM mean to you?
To me, Black History Month means celebrating Black people’s achievements in America, and diving deep into the diversity Black people bring to the country. It’s looking at all different facets. They were trailblazers. They were overcomers from the very beginning.
This is a time to celebrate Blackness in America – in the past and the present.

One of my favorite things I got to do recently was make a display in the curriculum materials library at the College of Education because 1) I learned a lot and 2) It gives me the opportunity to help educate people on Black history that is not as well-known.
In my community, it’s more about highlighting where we’ve come from as a people. In my middle school growing up they would have a Black History Month show or presentation, they would share a fact on the announcements every morning, and highlight different Black artists. 
It’s a time to highlight culture in whatever ways you can in your daily life. Even just being more aware of it brings Black history to the forefront and helps us be a little more reflective in our daily lives.

Q: Is there anyone in Black history who isn’t usually highlighted who has inspired you lately?
Zora Neale Hurston. I did a project on her last year. It was so cool learning about how influential her art was and her writing, but also how influential she was as an anthropologist. She did so much research on Black people and she told a lot of different stories. They found a book of hers in Howard’s archives called Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo. It’s about the last person brought over through the slave trade. He was alive when she was alive because he was brought over illegally after the slave trade was abolished. So yeah, it’s the story of the last person to be enslaved, and he lived in the 20th century. So that’s crazy – and I just love that she was able to capture stories like these.

Q: Growing up, was BHM celebrated in your church?
I’m sure it was because I went to a predominantly Black church. I can’t remember any specific Black History Month events that we would have. They were really into culture and highlighting the Black experience, but I can remember anything specific.

Interviewer: Well, maybe because it was more of a way of life rather than a once-a-year event.
Steph: Maybe.
Q: What are some ways you would like to see BHM honored by ministries and institutions?
I would love to see Black History Month celebrated more widely outside of the school setting. I think the way churches can celebrate is by having more culturally diverse events. I was thinking about this recently – we could have a Diversity Outreach event where we just come together to learn [about Black history]. We could have a Black History Month fact every Wednesday at Wesley or every Sunday at church. So yeah, just hosting more cultural events. I’ve noticed at UGA – this is a season when they have a lot of cultural events, for example, the African Student Union (ASU) generally tries to have Africa night during Black History Month. So just more opportunities for people to learn about Black culture.

In the future, we always hope that Black History Month becomes obsolete. Because we would love for it to be incorporated into everyday life. My hope is that this history would be known versus having to be discovered. In the meantime, we need to highlight it more, so that it’s outside of just school… and Google doodles.
Q: Who - famous or not - would you like to honor who has had a tremendous effect on your life?
Recently, I’ve just really been thinking about Mary Frances Early, with them naming the College of Education after her right now. I’ve been thinking about her legacy and that when she came here the culture of UGA was so hostile toward Black people. She was able to not only endure that but to thrive in it. And now she will have a College named after her in a place where they hated her and didn’t want her. It’s inspiring and I’ve been very reflective about it because it’s such an honor to be a Black student at UGA right now when they’re taking a stride to honor a Black woman. And, while UGA definitely has a lot of work to do, this is definitely one of those wins that you just have to revel in.





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