by Sunyata Courie / Staff Reporter
“Seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history,” said President Gerald Ford after officially recognizing February as Black History Month in 1976. However, the history of African Americans is tumultuous and often difficult to talk about.
Black Student Union (BSU) is an “organization that is a safe space for the black people on campus, so they feel comfortable,” said McKaylah Anderson, a freshman psychology major and secretary of BSU for Roosevelt University. “That being said, we are all-inclusive of all races, so you don’t have to be just black to come to BSU.”
Although the club specifically focuses “on different black causes and issues, it’s a safe space for all that want to come and support us,” said junior business marketing major and BSU treasurer Jayla Lawrence.
BSU is a large club, with Anderson estimating they have at least 40 active members involved. Anderson also mentioned the large amount of alumni support the organization receives. “It’s a livelihood thing. We have alumni of the club come back and work with us too.”
Anderson also mentioned that BSU not only caters to Roosevelt but to Robert Morris University students as well. Robert Morris students are welcome to attend any events that BSU hosts.
BSU is sponsoring many events this month for Black History Month. On Wednesday, Feb. 5, the club held a “Roll Bounce” event with free roller skating in the Ida B. Wells lounge. Freshman psychology major Chidi Ukegbu attended the roller skating event and said that he enjoyed it. He noted that there “was a consistent stream of people in and out” of the event and that it was a “good distraction from the stress of the beginning of the semester.” He also mentioned that there were many Robert Morris University students at the event.
On Wednesday, Feb. 19, the organization will be holding a “Take it to the Streets” event in collaboration with South Loop Christian Ministries (SLCM) at 5:30 p.m. Volunteers can join BSU and SLCM in distributing lunches and hygiene items to the homeless.
On Feb. 27, BSU will be hosting its largest event of the month, the third annual Melanin Ball, the theme is Harlem Renaissance. There will be a royal court with two black students crowned king and queen. Anyone looking to apply can find applications in the center for student involvement M.S.S.S office. The winner is crowned at the event and will receive a scholarship from BSU for school.
“It’s Black History Month, the shortest month of the year. The least we could do is give back,” Anderson said.
Lawrence, who received the scholarship last year, discussed how when the idea of a scholarship for the Melanin Ball winners was first introduced, “people would call it racist.” She explained that the scholarship wasn’t racist but was more so “celebrating melanin and black culture,” because a lot of times, “black people don’t get that at all.”
Throughout the month of February, the BSU at Roosevelt is working to celebrate black culture. With a myriad of events focused on Black History Month, they are aiming to highlight and honor black culture.
“So often if you’re darker, society tells you you’re uglier and less appreciated,” Lawrence commented. “And that’s just not true, this month is about appreciating all that black people can do.”