The Black Student Union went “New Age” for Black History Month, featuring a Harlem Renaissance-themed kickoff event and the announcement of Joseph Simmons, better know as Rev. Run from RUN-D.M.C., as the month’s keynote speaker.

“Please allow me to do some historical justice to the Harlem Renaissance,” began speaker Randall Edouard, director of the Educational Opportunity Program, at the kickoff in Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center on Feb. 1.

Edouard traced the event’s “The New Age Renaissance” theme back to the roots of Black History Month.

The 1920s were a decade of rebirth, and the Harlem Renaissance included the birth of what would become widely spread African American culture, Edouard said. This was also the time that Black History Month saw its beginnings.

“We remember the past, and we remember where we came from, which helps us to get where we’re going,” he said. “[Black History Month] is very critical because over the years there has been such a lack of understanding, a lack of information, and a lack of sharing knowledge … it’s empowering not only for African American people, but for all people to know: What has been done in American history?”

BSU held trivia toward the end of the event, offering the winner a chance to attend the reception with this month’s keynote speaker. It was announced with roaring approval that BSU will be bringing Joseph Simmons to Binghamton University.

Simmons, known to most as Rev. Run or DJ Run, will be the keynote speaker on Feb. 28 in Lecture Hall 1. Simmons is the co-founder of Def Jam Records and founder of hip-hop group RUN-D.M.C.

The kickoff featured entertainment, with various singers as well as the BU Break Dancing Squad performing a show for the crowd.

Events to be held during the month will include cooking classes, blood drives and gospel competitions. On Feb. 15, there will be a Poetry Jam in the Undergrounds Cafe beginning at 6 p.m.

Unlike last year’s Black History Month, this year BSU has included what is known as a “Day of Service,” in which members participate in six different community projects throughout the area as a way to give back to Broome County.

Planning for these events began over the summer, according to BSU Vice President Jamila Adams. She said they try to make each Black History Month bigger and better.

“We’re constantly reinventing ourselves,” said Adams, a senior majoring in industrial and systems engineering.

BSU President Chanee Cameron was happy with the turnout, and stressed how important Black History Month is to the black community.

“It enables us to be proud of who we are and to celebrate,” said Cameron, a senior majoring in history. “It shows the significance of the power that we have and the culture that we come from.”