Remember diversity and racism are issues year-round

It’s easy to be apathetic, but it’s more rewarding to be engaged.

Though for many students at Grand Valley State University the long winter months ahead may mean treacherous commutes, late night study sessions and skulking through a series of closely-connected buildings in order to avoid wind and snow, the month of February means much more than the immediate things around us.

With Black History Month just days away, students should take advantage of the opportunities available both on- and off-campus to commemorate the history changing events of the civil rights movement that happened and continue to happen nation-wide.

GVSU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs will be bringing two very historically prominent figures to speak at GVSU over the month, beginning with former Olympian John Carlos, who was banned from the Olympic games following a display of black power on the award stage, when Carlos was receiving the bronze medal for the 200-meter race at the 1968 Summer Olympics.

Closing out the month, Diane Nash, organizer of the Freedom Ride from Alabama to Mississippi in 1961, will speak about her experiences as a nonviolent protestor who made major strides in the Civil Rights movement at the end of the ’50s and the early ’60s.

Equally as important as observing these events over the next month, is remembering that commemoration doesn’t stop there. The issue of civil rights, though significantly improved since the initial movement began, is still very real. Racial discrimination and inequalities exist worldwide, and occur on a daily basis, whether we notice them or not.

As citizens, and as members of the human race, it’s part of our job description to actively seek out injustice and go at it with everything we’ve got in us. And as a young, capable generation embarking into this big, bad world, we are called to be engaged, to leave apathy behind us and instead leave positive changes in our wake. Whether you sign up for one of GVSU’s diversity-based Laker Leadership Programs, participate in events organized by the Office of Multicultural Affairs or simply educate yourself, even the smallest step can make a difference.