Student Life Editor
Feb. 1 marks the beginning of Black History Month, a month-long celebration and remembrance of African Americans who have brought about positive change, made history, broke barriers and exemplified bravery in American history.
Throughout Black History Month, we usually reflect on greats like Martin Luther King Jr., who was a main leader during the civil rights movement. We think of Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery, dedicated her life to helping others through the Underground Railroad, served as a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War, and is now making her way to replace President Andrew Jackson on the 20-dollar bill. We think of Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in major league baseball. We remember Katherine Johnson, a woman who calculated the flight path for NASA’s first space mission. And we celebrate many more.
While remembering those incredible individuals – who faced tremendous adversity – is important, it is important to celebrate black and African Americans around us. Our friends, family, and loved ones who contribute so much to our lives every single day, not just during the month of February.
Justine Plummer, is a senior at the University and identifies as African American. Born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey, she is one of six children in her family.
During her years at the University, Justine has shown her friends and peers how a little positivisty can make everything better. Her friends, family, and colleagues are well aware of her vibrant energy.
We took time to ask Justine some questions about Black History Month and her feelings on the topic.
AQUINAS: It’s officially Black History Month. What does this occasion mean to you?
Justine Plummer: I am grateful that our country recognizes the culture and celebrates the successes of the black and African American people. However, I don’t think this should just be celebrated in February; black and African American contribution should be recognized every day.
AQ: Do you identify as black, or African American – and why?
JP: I identify as African American because I believe my ancestors came from Africa. But, there are individuals who don’t identify as African American, but as black, because their ancestors come from places like Haiti, Jamaica, and other Caribbean islands.
AQ: Let’s get into your family history a little bit. What’s some history behind the Plummer name?
JP: The last name Plummer goes all the way back to Adam Francis Plummer, who kept a diary during his time as a slave. The diary is now at a museum The Anacostia Community Museum in Maryland. My uncle, Roderick Plummer, was the first black quarterback at Princeton University. Finally, my grandfather’s cousin, Jewel Plummer Cobb, was a respected cancer researcher, dedicating her studies to researching Melanoma.
AQ: Wow, so you have a pretty rich family history?
JP: Yes, yes I do.
AQ: It seems like many of your ancestors and current family members were involved in a lot. What have you been involved in?
JP: As a child, I was involved in show choir and community plays/musicals. I went to a performing arts middle and high school, where I majored in dance. I then became a member of the Plainfield high school varsity cheer team. The cheer team afforded me the opportunity to become an All-American Cheerleader, and go to London, England to perform in the New Year’s Day parade. Now, I’m a senior at the University, graduating in May with a Bachelor of Science in Community Health Education, with a minor in Psychology.
AQ: You sure do have a lot to be proud of.
JP: Yes, but I’m blessed with a great support system who push me to be my best.
AQ: If you could convey any message about Black History Month, what would that be?
JP: I would say that I think it is important to get to know about other backgrounds, heritages, and cultures other than your own. I’m glad Black History Month is celebrated