Speeches, vigil and social media campaign to celebrate black history

by Jennifer Johnson,

Throughout February, the voices of black activists will be broadcast across campus in recognition of Black History Month.

Inspired by an event last year through Willamette’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Black Student Union (BSU) decided to honor black history and identity through education, celebration and reflection.

Every Friday from 11 a.m.–3 p.m., students will hear the voices of Alice Walker, Sojourner Truth, bell hooks, Steve Biko, Winnie Mandela and several other black activists and artists broadcast from speakers at the University Center. The club kicked off the series Friday with Malcolm X, a Muslim minister and human rights activist.

Megan Malone-Brown ’18, the president of BSU, says the club hopes the broadcast will “disrupt the white-centered space” and encourage students to stop and listen.

“We have a predominantly white campus,” she says, “but anyone can celebrate blackness and educate themselves about the history of blackness and stand in solidarity with us.”

BSU is also hosting other events this month:

  • Feb. 10: Social media campaign, “#blackisbeautiful,” from noon–4 p.m. at Jackson Plaza. Members of the community will be invited to finish the sentence “Black is beautiful because ____”  and have a photo taken for use on the club’s Instagram and Facebook pages.
  • Feb. 17: A vigil from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. at Jackson Plaza to recognize marginalized people killed by police violence.
  • Feb. 19: Immigrants’ March on all 50 state capitals for Presidents Day. BSU is creating posters and joining the march in Salem.
  • Feb. 24: Movie night celebrating black culture. The event is in collaboration with the Willamette Events Board.
  • Feb. 25: African Film Festival in Portland. BSU annually attends the festival, which runs from Feb. 3–March 4.
  • Feb. 28: Black History Month Celebration and a Look to the Future. The event will be held at Jackson Plaza and will let others know what they can do to become active in BSU and issues regarding black individuals in the future.

Stay updated on BSU events or contact Malone-Brown at mmaloneb@willamette.edu for more information. BSU meetings are held every Thursday from 8–9 p.m. in Art 210.

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