Coming together to celebrate Black History Month

(Alissa Salem/Staff Illustrator)


Special to The Leader


To kick off Black History Month, Fredonia’s Black Student Union hosted the opening ceremony of “The Black Renaissance.” This includes a month full of events celebrating black history.

Members of the Black Student Union and other students at Fredonia gathered on Feb. 4 at 7p.m. in the Multipurpose Room for the first event of the month. The theme of the night was “Harlem Renaissance.”

“It’s an opening ceremony to celebrate the month and to get everyone ready to be appreciative of black culture, black history and being black in general,” said senior history major and member of BSU, Mary Kay Taylor.

“[We gathered for] food, fun and black excellence,” said sophomore art history major Shalya James.

To go along with the theme, everyone was encouraged to dress up in 1920s clothing. Some of the items people chose to wear were pearls, headbands and feathers.

The evening began with opening remarks from the president of the Black Student Union, Jelissa Samuel, a senior history and political science double major.

“This month we are celebrating the rebirth of being black,” Samuel said. “Black history is about celebrating the past. This month we are going to be celebrating not just the past, but [the present] because we are a part of black history. Don’t you ever forget.”

Small flyers were placed on the dining tables showing what other events BSU will be hosting this month. They include: “Bring Your Melanin” karaoke on Feb. 9 at Tim Hortons, a trip to see Marvel’s Black Panther, the Black Empowerment Retreat on Feb. 23 and 24 at the College Lodge and “The Black Masquerade,” the closing ceremony of “The Black Renaissance” on Feb. 25.

“I’m really excited for the retreat,” said James. “Just being on this campus we get spread apart a lot. You don’t really know everyone on the campus, you see them but you don’t really know them, so I feel like that’s a time where we can come together and be as one.”

At the end of BSU’s “The Black Renaissance” was a visit from Keynote Speaker Lorna C. Hill, founder of Ujima Company Inc., based in Buffalo, New York. Her company focuses on theatre and performing for African Americans.

The event was also complemented by food from FSA catering including fried catfish, macaroni and cheese, chicken, rice, salad and cornbread.

“The Black Renaissance” had a little bit of everything for the audience, including a chance to walk a red carpet and enjoy live performances. A rendition of the black national anthem “Lift Every Voice” was performed by junior audio/ radio prodution double major Christina “Cookie” Cooke on the piano, and a member of BSU, Devin Johnson, sophomore video production and audio/ radio production media management double major recited a poem he wrote.

The ceremony closed with more pictures, dancing and mingling.

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