By Morgan Lubner
Black Student Union (BSU) recently hosted a kickoff event for Black History Month with the hope of starting the month’s events on a positive note.
Students gathered in the Education Building on Monday, Feb. 1, to enjoy a presentation of informational slideshows, speeches, performances and ethnic foods provided by different clubs associated with BSU.
Coordinator of the event, sophomore health and exercise science major Priscilla Winston-Laryea, explained that the kickoff has occured every year since BSU was founded at the College in 1980. It’s meant to showcase black history and make students more aware of the month and its purpose.
“Black history needs to be celebrated for how far we have come and to share with our peers what we are capable of collectively,” Winston-Laryea said. “There’s no other way to start off the month correctly.”
Soulful Sound, a jazz band run by students from the College that was accompanied by a member of BSU, started the performances with their rendition of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” often referred to as the “Black National Anthem.” Afterward, the group played more traditional songs, including a cover of Drake’s “Hotline Bling.”
Other performances included the Association of Students For Africa’s (ASFA) dance team who, similar to Soulful Sound, started with more traditional music and dancing, then moved to more modern music.
With three different stations set up with assorted types of ethnic food — one table run by BSU, one by ASFA and another by the Haitian Student Association (HSA) — attendees soon moved from their seats to the dance floor. The room quickly became a welcoming environment for everyone who attended the event.
“I expected very little diversity at this event, and I was pleasantly surprised with all the different cultures and ethnicities that were in the room,” Winston-Laryea said. “I also didn’t expect people to have as much fun as they did. Throughout the week (after the event), I had multiple people coming to me telling me how great of a time they had. It’s great to know that we served our community well.”
Everyone came out for different reasons, but many were along the same lines as freshman open options pre-law major Danielle Parks.
“I came partly because I’m in BSU and, well, because I’m black,” Parks said. “I wanted to be entertained and, of course, I came for the food. It was really fun.”
BSU has upcoming events planned throughout the month of February, including the Black Monologues — an open space for black youth to talk about personal experiences — on Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 8 p.m. in the Library Auditorium and voter registration on Friday, Feb. 12, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Brower Student Center.