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Lakeland College will celebrate Black History Month with its annual Essence of Heritage program on Thursday, Feb. 7, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Bradley Auditorium.
The program, which is sponsored by the Lakeland Black Student Union with support from the Beta Sigma Omega fraternity and Alpha Psi Alpha sorority, is free and open to the public.
Ahkeim McKnight, a senior business administration major from Pontiac, Mich., will receive the Alliant Energy/Erroll B. Davis Jr. Minority Achievement Award as part of the program. The award was created in honor of Erroll B. Davis Jr., currently chancellor of the University System of Georgia and former chairman of the board of Alliant Energy Corporation.
The annual award is given by the Wisconsin Foundation for Independent Colleges (WFIC). McKnight wins a $5,000 cash award as part of the honor.
McKnight has served as vice president and treasurer of the Beta Sigma Omega fraternity, treasurer of the Black Student Union and is a member of the Inter Greek Council, the Global Student Association, Lakeland's Habitat for Humanity chapter, the Campus Activities Board and is a Big Brothers & Big Sisters Lunch Buddies volunteer. He is a member of Lakeland's football and track teams, and served as a math tutor and works as a campus security officer.
"Being involved in these organizations made me look at life very differently," McKnight said. "I realize that there are a lot of different types of gender, race and religion that are willing to give a helping hand, and I have learned to do that also."
Thursday's program will include a number of presentations by Lakeland students, including a discussion of slavery and its history, a history of Hip-Hop and commercials for products from black inventors and headlines from recent events that demonstrate that the battle for racial equality is still being fought today.
David Benton Jr., a 2007 Lakeland graduate, will also be part of the program. Benton came to Lakeland from Ashtabula, Ohio, to play football, and graduated with a degree in criminal justice and is the founder and president of Empower Youth Services of Wisconsin, Inc., a non-profit that provides mentoring and support for at-risk youth.
Thursday's program will also include: