Black History Month: Recap of events

As Black History Month came to an end, Black Student Union (BSU) made their presence known with the variety of events in February. BSU ended it with a “Toast for Change,” celebrating their involvement and continuing to celebrate Black excellence all year round.


Black Student Union (BSU) packed a punch with their events this Black History Month. Many events were learning moments, and all were filled with fun. Bonding moments were held, and experiences were shared during this month of remembrance and empowerment.

On Wednesday, Feb. 9, BSU held their Poetry Slam. Students had the opportunity to share their experiences through spoken word. “Black people have been very creative in the way they express their emotions,” BSU’s president, Laito Zarkpah, shared to preface the start of the show. Students performed as many pieces as they wanted, though only their first piece was graded by the judges. 

First, second and third place were given respectively to Asascia Manderson, Nkasa Bolumbu, and Vincent Ali. Other performers included Dimaucia Phanfil, Natasha Jean and Laito Zarkpah. These artists spoke about their personal experiences as a person of the Black community. Some touching on the hardships, others embracing the beautiful highlights.

On Sunday, Feb. 13, BSU members attended service at Gift of Life Church, followed by a buffet-style Soul Food Dinner, consisting of mac ‘n cheese, greens, cornbread, fried chicken, corn and ham. Members of the church prepared and served the meal to all, with the focal point being on the BSU UNI students. 

Loved by all, the savory foods were followed up by a variety of cakes. Not only were they fed, the BSU members learned about Black history, heard a moving poem, and a powerful message delivered by one of the church pastors. Many members mentioned how moving the sermon was, and how the entire service was exciting. 

Valentine’s Day was celebrated on Monday, Feb. 14, as BSU members gave out pre-ordered candy grams in Maucker Union. Those who ordered received a goody bag of candy, a small bear and a note from the sender to be given to a friend or loved one. 

BSU kept the events rolling with their annual Skate Party on Saturday, Feb. 19, where students and faculty had the opportunity to show off their skating skills. The theme was the 1970s, and the event and skates were free for all who participated. Gift card prizes were given to the best dressed and the fastest skater, making for a successful celebration. 

Black Student Union hosted one more event that was open to the public Monday, Feb. 28. The Tunnel of Oppression was held in Lang Hall from 6-8 p.m. People of all backgrounds and races were welcome to walk through five classrooms each representing an oppression that the Black community has faced, and continues to face, while educating attendees on the history of those aspects of Black culture. The rooms consisted of the Amani Community Services, soul food, hairstyles, fashion trends and privilege. A debriefing room was available at the end for conversation and clarification.

The closing ceremony was hosted by BSU in the ballrooms on Saturday, March 6. Toast for Change was a banquet to thank those who participated and contributed to the Black History Month events, and to award members for their outstanding performances. Jerrell Bates, a senior, received the Young, Gifted and Black Award for his help with Black History Month. “It was an honor to receive it as I have always loved being a member of BSU,” said Bates. “I love seeing them continue to do great things for the African-American community on campus.”