By Maia Vines

Stony Brook University kicked off the celebration of Black History Month with the Black History Month Opening Ceremony on Wednesday, Feb. 6 in the Student Activities Center.

The theme of this year’s Black History Month is Blackness is Endless.

“Blackness is Endless was created by the committee to really illustrate the infinite contributions modalities of identity, future possibilities of individuals that are included within the African diaspora and within the Stony Brook community,” Judith Greiman, Chief Deputy to the President, said.

The event was a collaboration with Black History Month Committee, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, Faculty Student Association and CulinArt Group.

The Black History Month Advisory board organized the celebration with a performance from the Stony Brook Gospel Choir, speeches from faculty, board members and guest speaker, former Bravo’s Top Chef contestant, Kwame Onwuachi.

Onwuachi is the creator and executive chef of two restaurants in Washington D.C., Kith and Kin and Philly Wing Fry.  He is also the author of a new book called, “Notes from a Young Black Chef,” and has previously cooked for President Barack Obama.

The Bronx-born chef talked about his childhood, his Nigerian and Caribbean roots and how they greatly influenced his work.  

“I think what set a great foundation was those two years spent in Nigeria,” Onwuachi said. “It gave me a lot of respect for what I’m doing and the way that I cook now is that I think every dish should tell a story,” he continued.

Before Onwuachi traveled the world, the chef quit his job and sold candy on the subway for two months, gaining $20,000.

“Ten years ago, I was a kid in the projects selling candy on the subway to start my first catering company and I never thought I’d be where I am today,” said Onwuachi.  

Onuwuachi’s shared that his “autobiographical” Afro-Caribbean cuisine is a way for him and his servers to create and share memories with people from all different backgrounds.

“The outside noise of what people may think or you know this may take too long or I want this tomorrow,” Onwuachi said. “It’s not gonna happen but it will happen a lot faster than you think if just put your head down and keep working.”

Victor Piccini-Ventura, the Co-Chair for the Opening ceremony, was nominated to perform the African Libation and the Elder’s Permission ritual during the ceremony.

“In the efforts for inclusion Black History Month being celebrated by SBU is very important,” the 24-year-old Africana Studies major on the pre-med track said. “I implore more students to get involved, and I implore much more Administration to seek out the student population outside of these 28 days. The celebration of Black History Month showcases the aptitude and industrious nature of my peers on this campus.”