Photo taken by Dara Bahk
by Dara Bahk and Giovanni Ortiz
Copy Editor and Blogs Editor
Dr. Allison J. McLarty, M.D., spoke at Stony Brook University’s Black History Month Opening Ceremony in the SAC Sidney Gelber Auditorium reminding students the importance of their choices.
Her advice draws from her experience facing discrimination and judgement throughout her academic career because she was an black female immigrant, she said.
Dr. McLarty is Stony Brook Medicine’s Head Thoracic Aortic Surgeon, an Associate Professor of Surgery and Surgical director of the Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVA D) program.
“If you work hard,” Dr. McLarty said, “they stop seeing your gender.”
She reminisced on her Jamaican upbringing, attending an all girls school and growing up in a majority black country and feeling as if she could achieve the same as men and people of other races. She had never been told she could not achieve a goal until she came to the United States and her academic counselor said she would not be able to become a doctor.
“Our choices are powerful, they empower us,” Dr. McLarty concluded. “We should never, ever forget that, or get ourselves to be in a passive place where we feel like we cannot change who we are, what’s going on or what our destiny’s meant to be.”
Her talk coincided with this year’s Black History Month’s theme as “Sankofa: Still I Rise.”
Sankofa originates from the Twi language of Ghana used by the Akan people, meaning “to go back and get it.” Its concept focuses on the importance of returning and remembering one’s roots in order to advance forward.
According to the Stony Brook University website, “the theme was created to re-ignite awareness, appreciation, passion, and commitment to Black History Month for all people, but especially those whose ancestors are from the African Diaspora.”
“We are always fighting hate and must never stop,” Shari Cummings, student co-chair of black history planning and committee said. “But you must also remember to not let hate shape our present as your present becomes your future. Don’t let it stunt your growth, and I encourage you to act out of love in the face of hate.”
This program was coordinated by the Office of Multicultural Activities, Black History Month Committee, and Department of Africana Studies, and a multitude of student organizations such as the Black Womyn’s Association, C.O.A.L.I.T.I.O.N., LGBTA, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and 21 other campus organizations.
Dr. Jarvis M. Watson and Dr. Zebulon Miletsky served as interchanging hosts. Watson started off, and introduced the Cadence step team who executed a captivating performance.
The Stony Brook Gospel Choir sung the first stanza of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often referred to as the Black American National Anthem.
Watson introduced Dr. Richard Gatteau, interim Vice President of Student Affairs and Associate Provost for Academic Success in the division of Undergraduate students. He welcomed the audience, reciting the importance of diversity, social justice, and the significance of recognizing and understanding another one’s struggles.
Afterwards, Dr. Tracey Walters, the department chair of Africana studies spoke at the podium. Walters described the trials African Americans faced and the triumphs they have achieved.