Every February we celebrate Black History Month, but black history is your history.

There are probably a couple incidents you could think of that blacks have played a significant part in, directly or indirectly. Whether sitting at a stoplight or looking at your watch, something you use, see, walk past, ignore or pass over every day has a black connection.

And whether you know it or not, blacks have played a big part in your history — you need only do a little digging.

For instance, my high school, Mesquite High, was a whites-only school when American schools were segregated. All the black students attended a smaller school a few blocks away before they were integrated in the ’60s.

You can even date black history to this campus.

Besides graduating a black senator and the first black mayor of Waco, UTA experienced its own brand of racial tension in the heights of the civil rights movement.

Most university students know that the university has undergone many name changes. Many also know that the school has had many themes and mascots.

But did you know that while we were known has the Rebels, the Confederate naval jack flew on campus? Did you know that an annual event affectionately called “Old South Days” showcased students recreating slave auctions and dressing in blackface?

Understandably, this infuriated students on campus of all colors. There were protests and flag burnings. The UT-System Board of Regents and students — not just black students — fought to get the theme changed, and in 1972, UTA adopted Mavericks as its mascot.

These events, though grim, are part of UTA’s history, and as a student of this school, they are part of your history.

So every Wednesday this month, The Shorthorn will publish a story examining the impact blacks have made at UTA, past and present. We’ll look back at those rough times in the 1960s, at a culture lost in the 1990s, and the campus today.

But the most important part of the series involves you.

The third installment will feature opinion columns from you, the university community, regarding black history. Your topic choice is open, including what black history month means to you, what it means to be black, being black at UTA, etc.

We just ask that you stay within the parameters of a regular column: 400-500 words, name, major, classification and contact information included at the bottom, and be available to have your picture taken. And you don’t have to be black to write a column. Not every column will be published in the paper, but all columns will be available at http://shorthorn.uta.edu. This will become a part of history. Take an active stance and celebrate Black History Month with us.

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