What Black History Month Means to: The Activists

By Morgan Givens
Staff writer

As February draws to a close, so does Black History Month, which is celebrated by many throughout the country as well as here on the campus of the University of West Florida. One of the main advocates for this time of the year is the African American Student Association.

AASA, which is composed of 60 members, found February and Black History Month to be a very important time for not just their organization, but for their individual values and how they see themselves looking back in history. According to AASA’s President Eric Martin, every member has a different perspective on this month.

“In this organization, we’re dealing with 60 different personalities, 100 percent of the time,” Martin said.

“To me, I feel like it’s a time of knowledge.” – Eric Martin, AASA President


Being from Sanford, Florida, Martin took more time to adjust to living in Pensacola and balancing playing football with school and other life matters instead of being involved in his first two years at UWF as a finance major. That changed over this past summer when he stepped in at the treasurer role at AASA. Martin said he took pride in his work to help the organization’s financial situation by gaining sponsors. After that summer Martin assumed the vice president role and after the previous president left the organization, he was named AASA’s president.

With this being the first time being president of any organization, Martin says it has been an eye-opening experience and a humbling experience. After his term ends in April, he says he wants to leave a message of hope and growth for AASA and found this month to be especially important for him in his leadership role, as well on a personal level.

“To me, I feel like it’s a time of knowledge,” Martin said. “I personally took the time to do my own research and celebrate what black people have been credited and sometimes not credited for yet still achieved. I think this month is also a time to celebrate where we’ve come from and where we are today and how we’re striving to make the world a better place.”

Although serving as president the leadership role in AASA does not solely lie with Martin. At his side is the organization’s advisor, Tia Wallace-Walker. Wallace-Walker started her college career at UWF, but graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a degree in computer information systems. After a job opening back at her former school, she jumped at the opportunity and now serves as the main coordinator for AASA.

Wallace-Walker oversees all the events AASA hosts or participates in and has a say in all purchases the organization makes to list a few of her long list of duties as an advisor. Collaborating with other organizations, sharing ideas among members, and serving as a mentor are some of Wallace-Walker’s favorite parts of her advisor role and the main point of contact for AASA.

“I see this month as a time for empowerment.” – Tia Walker-Wallace, AASA Advisor


February is a month that she sees as a very important time for the year for the organization, which hosted AASA Week, which included events and activities that brought AASA members and other African American students together over a week this month. She also sees Black History Month as a time to personally reflect.

“I see this month as a time for empowerment.” Wallace-Walker said, “I also think it’s a time to share knowledge and to come together and know there is so much we can all learn.”

One of the aspects Wallace-Walker has learned is looking at today’s climate that can sometimes be rife with racial tensions in multiple perspectives.

“I think it’s a touchy thing to talk about,” Wallace-Walker said. “It all depends on your personal perspective and when you have movements like the Black Lives Matter versus the Blue Lives Matter movements you can feel for both of them if you have family members that fall into both categories. I think it’s two-fold, and the only way we can hope to see progress is to voice our opinions.”

What makes AASA the organization it is is its passionate members. These members appreciate the togetherness of their organization and uphold the values that advocate their key message. One of those members is Jasmine Richburg, a supply chain logistics major who hails from Pensacola.

Richburg cherishes being an AASA member because she sees it as a place for herself as well as a place to connect with people she sees very similar to her. Looking up to her leadership roles, Richburg appreciates both Wallace-Walker and Martin and how they run the organization.

“I think Tia works very hard and diligently as the advisor and is always a joy to have around,” Richburg said. “And as far as Eric at the president role, he gets the job done and always has his member’s best interest at heart.”

For Richburg, looking back in time and seeing the strides African Americans have made is extremely important to her, especially during Black History Month.

“For me I see this month as a time for achievement.” – Jasmine Richburg, AASA member


“For me I see this month as a time for achievement,” Richburg said. “To see where we have come as a race and see what we have accomplished through history is important, from inventions to initiatives or just being the first to achieve something is definitely great to highlight.”

The message of activism AASA strives to voice their opinion and make their point known in a peaceful and powerful way, and although February comes to a close, the mission doesn’t end for the organization and they will continue to work to advocate for African American students on the UWF campus.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *