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BSU kicks off Black History Month

CECILIA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

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Black History Month began with pride and cheer at UNI during lunchtime in Maucker Union on Friday, Feb. 1.

“Black history is American history!” called UNI’s Black Student Union (BSU) members from the plaza steps, proudly displaying their bright Black History Month banner. “And we are here to stay!”

The crowd applauded as the BSU members, dressed in all black, ascended the stairs into the Center for Multicultural Education. There, members and non-members alike danced and sang to celebrate the kickoff event, the first of 13 BSU-sponsored events to be held in honor of Black History Month this year. These free, open-to-the-public activities include talks and seminars, art and poetry, open mics, a skate party, a royalty competition and more.

“Black History Month is important to me because black history is not separate from American history,” explained freshman psychology major and BSU member Jerrell Bates. “It’s important that we see the two together.”

February has been Black History Month in the United States since 1970 and in Canada since 1995. It is traditionally a time to remember and honor important people and events from the history of the African diaspora.

“I think it is important to celebrate Black History Month because it is American History and vital that everyone knows what Africans Americans contributed to American culture,” said Paris Haywood, a sophomore marketing major and BSU president. “Black History Month means being proud of where I come and embracing my heritage and teaching those who are unaware.”

BSU’s Black History Month events not only include educational spaces, but also provide the opportunity to enjoy dancing, food, music, art, poetry and more as a celebration of black culture and achievements, and also to bring the local UNI and Cedar Valley community together.

On Monday, Feb. 4, BSU will be hosting “Environmental Injustice” at 6 p.m. in Schindler Room 216. This educational event will focus on exploring the effects of toxic waste deliberately dumped in areas with a significant minority population.

In collaboration with African Union and dance group The MOVEment, BSU’s next event, “Step Up & Step Out” will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 6 p.m. in the Maucker Union Ballroom. This event will use the story of African American dance and music to show the importance of health in the African American community.

“Night at the Apollo: Amateur Night” will be held Friday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. in Lang Hall Auditorium. Hosted by Nova and Shindigg, students will have the opportunity to showcase their talents and compete for prizes in a low-stress environment. A poetry slam will also take place in Maucker Union’s Hemisphere Lounge at 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 11, featuring guest poets Queen Gabby and Jalesha Johnson. Those interested in performing for the talent show or sharing their spoken word poetry can also contact BSU at [email protected]

Haywood said of all the Black History Month events, there is one she is most excited for. “Definitely the skate party. It’s for the whole community and we’re partnering with Hawkeye Community College this year. It’s going to be the biggest event of the month.”

The skate party will be held in the lower courts of the UNI Wellness and Recreation Center from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15. Featuring free admission, free skates and fashion and music from the 90’s and 00’s, this inclusive event welcomes all to attend. There are opportunities to win prizes as well.

Another highly anticipated event is the “Tunnel of Oppression” on Wednesday, Feb. 20 from 6 to 9 p.m. in Lang Hall’s basement classrooms. Seven classrooms will be transformed into scenes of oppression, with real life reenactments to give attendees perspective into African American issues and history. An additional room will be set up as a counseling room for debrief sessions.

Other BSU-sponsored events include a “Brotha & Sista Chat” about overlooked controversial topics in the black community on Wednesday, Feb. 13; an “All About the Business” session promoting black entrepreneurship and business-owners on Monday, Feb. 18; a screening of Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne film “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” on Thursday, Feb 21; and a royalty competition among eight BSU members on Saturday, Feb. 23 and a gospel concert and soul food dinner at the Wesley Foundation on Sunday, Feb. 24.

BSU’s final event for the month will take place on Monday, Feb. 25, in Schindler Room 220. This Black History Month trivia event is open to all ages and features a variety of different trivia games, including a Jeopardy-style quiz competition, timed word searches and a group game of Kahoot. Attendees will be asked to answer questions about historical events and people in the black community and about black culture.

“Anyone, any people of color or anyone who feel like they don’t have a place or don’t belong are welcome at BSU,” Bates said.

“Our goal is to be welcome and opening; these events are for everyone,” Haywood said.

A full list of events and descriptions can be found on the BSU’s Facebook page at @UNIBlackStudentUnion and Twitter and Instagram pages at @UNIBSU. Those interested in more information about the organization and their events can email BSU at [email protected]

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BSU kicks off Black History Month