Students celebrating the beginning of Black History Month at the Black Student Union’s Kickoff Brunch on Jan. 30. Photo courtesy of Grace Denckhoff.
EMMA CHAMLEY | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
BSU’s annual Kickoff Brunch was held in the Efroymson Diversity Center on Sunday, Jan. 30. Jaedyn Davis, BSU member and first-year biology major, said the brunch made her feel included.
“It was very comforting and enjoyable,” Davis said. ”I haven’t really seen that many Black students on campus in one area at a time, and it was nice seeing other people who looked like me.”
Maurice Davidson, a healthcare and business major and BSU’s first-year chair, said BSU’s overall theme for the month is “Soul Train,” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the show which featured primarily African-American musical artists. Each week of the month will have its own theme related to “Soul Train.”
All students are welcome to attend any of the events, all of which are free.
The first week’s theme is excellence, and the event of the week is a panel and networking event with Black professionals from the Indianapolis community from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 5. Speakers include Indianapolis Deputy Mayor Judith Thomas, Butler alumnus AJ Matthews and local entrepreneur Anthony Murdock II. Students must register for the event using the link in BSU’s Instagram bio.
BSU is planning a social media campaign on their Instagram, posting a different Black historical figure every day of the month. Raziya Hillery, a senior political science and international studies major and president of BSU, said making sure the month was focused on history was important.
“There is such a rich history and culture, Black culture, that Butler has in its history and on its campus, and we appreciate and encourage the support from all Butler faculty members, staff and students, and advocates, not only in February, but all throughout the year,” Hillery said.
The second week’s theme is love and the feature event is Living Single — a Valentine’s Day themed game night for single students — from 7 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 8.
Hillery said because of other big events on campus this semester and classes ramping up in February, BSU chose to have only a few focused events.
“We started off with many more events, but with February picking up traditionally for students, and with Sigma Gamma Rho centennial and the Black Hub hosting events, we didn’t want to overwhelm students,” Hillery said.
The third week is peace week which will feature a community service event in partnership with College Mentors for Kids. Butler students will talk to the children about Black History Month. This event will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 17.
Davidson said February presents an opportunity for BSU to grow and that they are not going to stop planning events when the month ends.
“I’m definitely hoping that [BSU] will grow from where it is now, and I think this month is the start of it, because we aren’t going to be over after this month,” Davidson said. “We’re still going to continue to be active.”
Towards the end of the month, BSU will host Family Feud, a new addition this year, and Wild ‘N Out, where students will play five games based on the popular TV show.
The annual Unity Ball will take place on Saturday, Feb. 26 in Robertson Hall. The ball is an opportunity for students from Butler and surrounding universities to dance, get to know each other and celebrate the end of the month.
Hillery said focusing on outreach across faculty, staff and students to continue to grow BSU and advocate for students of color are two of their main goals.
“I think that we are trying to be a lot more intentional, efficient and proactive in our communication with the rest of the campus,” Hillery said. “We’re trying to build bridges among different organizations and different powerful people on campus. Besides the events, we’re trying to advocate more for students of color on campus and prospective students, working with faculty and staff to promote that cohesion … with the anticipation I think we have the potential to reach more people.”