SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UCSB Athletics is proud to promote the celebration of Black History Month as part of one of two recently created programs aimed at providing an outstanding all-around experience for Gaucho student-athletes and to reach out to the campus and Santa Barbara community.
The promotion of black history falls under the "BE Great" life skills program, which was recently unveiled by Director of Athletics Mark Massari and Executive Associate Athletics Director Diane O'Brien.
"We strive to be a positive influence in our community and recognizing diversity is a big part of that," said Massari.
As part of raising awareness of black history, some Gaucho athletes express their thoughts on the significance of Black History Month .
D.J. Posley, Men's Basketball
"For me, Black History Month is a celebration and recognition of the struggle that black people have had throughout American history. But it's not just a celebration of the struggles, it is a celebration of the achievements of black people in this country, achievements that have made my life better. Dr. King (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) is one of my heroes. The things he did set a precedent and got the civil rights movement going. Dr. King proved that important changes could be achieved through non-violent acts. In terms of sports, Jackie Robinson is a hero. It was hard for him because he was such a proud man, but he knew that he had to turn the other cheek and put up with some things to make it better for those who followed."
Kayla Smith, Women's Track & Field
"It (Black History Month) is recognition of achievement and progress, but also the realization that we need to continue working towards greater success. When an African-American can be in (elected) office it says a lot, but there are many more reasons to celebrate. I think it also helps us understand that we have a common goal of equality for all. The fact that it is a month is also important. If it were a one-day celebration, it would be easy to overlook, but a month cannot be overlooked and gives us a great opportunity to truly realize our successes, achievements, and where we need to go. A great example of someone who I look to celebrate during this month is Rosa Parks. Everyone knows the basic story of her standing up for herself, but in that period of time, it was really a great achievement."
Jesse Byrd, Men's Basketball
"Black History Month is a celebration of what my people have accomplished. It's an opportunity to take stock of what the American Negro has done for this country. Celebrating black history gives us time to recognize a lot of things. Right now is an important time in our history. What (President) Obama has achieved is incredible and it shows how far my people have come."
Whitney Warren, Women's Basketball
"I think it helps us show appreciation for all the hard work, courage and assertiveness that African-Americans took. It gives me the opportunity to appreciate and understand the struggles that people before me fought for when they were not able to reap the immediate results but in the long run I'm able to. I appreciate the struggles and pressures they went through and I didn't. I never had to go to sit-ins. I have a white mom and a black dad and when they were younger and looking for apartments, my mom would go and look and they would tell her they had vacancies and she would come back with my dad and they would say there were no vacancies. Or my dad would go and they would say no and then my mom would go to the same place and they would say `Yeah, we have vacancies.'
"My heroes? Aside from my parents, it's my brother. He sacrificed a lot. My brother always looked over my sister and I. My mom coached a lot and my dad worked a lot, but my brother taught me a lot. He led by example. He taught me to be loyal, to have a tight-knit family and that we would be there for each other."
For more on UCSB Athletics' BE Great initiative click here.
Black History Month is a national celebration that takes place each February. To read more about Black History Month, click here.