Features highlight: BSU and Lawrence’s Black History Month

Untitled artwork by junior Adda Fadila Louleid from last year’s BHM celebration. Photo by Jamie Dong.

Black Student Union (BSU) is hosting a series of 11 events to commemorate Black History Month at Lawrence. Festivities kicked off with a game of Family Feud on Thursday, Jan. 26 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. in the Diversity and Intercultural Center (D&IC). Their second event, Forgotten Black Figures, took place in the D&IC on Thursday, Feb. 2 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. and highlighted underrepresented Black historical figures. 

The next two events will also be hosted in the D&IC: Financial Empowerment Workshop and Candles for Cuties. The finance workshop is a collaboration between BSU and the Committee on Diversity Affairs (CODA) happening on Saturday, Feb. 4 from 2:30 — 6:30 p.m. Candles for Cuties, BSU’s annual candle-making event, is scheduled from 6 – 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8. 

On Friday, Feb. 10, BSU will collaborate with Alianza, Lawrence’s organization for Hispanic and Latinx students, for an off-campus Slam Poetry event. It will be hosted at Copper Rock Coffee Company, a café on College Avenue, from 5 — 7 p.m. 

BSU is also hosting a pair of brunch events with guest speakers on Sunday, Feb. 12 from noon — 2 p.m. Brown Girl Brunch will be held in the Somerset Room of Warch Campus Center and focuses on the unique experiences of Black women, while Brunch on the Block will be held simultaneously in Warch’s Nathan March Pusey Room and features conversations surrounding Black manhood. 

Black hairstylists and barbers will visit Lawrence on Feb. 15 and 16 to provide free haircuts for students as part of the annual Black Hair Care Initiative. 

On Saturday, Feb. 18, BSU is collaborating with Bon Appétit to provide a special meal in Andrew Commons from 4:30 — 7:30 p.m. Following the dinner, they will host the annual Black Excellence Ball from 9 p.m. — midnight in the Esch Hurvis Room at Warch Campus Center. This year’s theme is royalty. 

Black History Month will conclude with Cultural Expressions, an annual talent show that showcases Black and Brown students’ cultural talents. It will take place on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 7 — 9:30 p.m. in the Esch Hurvis Room. 

Untitled artwork by junior Adda Fadila Louleid from last year’s BHM celebration. Photo by Jamie Dong.

According to BSU co-president and senior Amaka Uduh, preparations for Black History Month started in Fall Term. She said that she and her fellow board members have been working hard all the way through Winter Term to ensure that the events come to fruition. 

“It’s been hell, but it’s been a fun hell,” Uduh said. “The planning is hectic, but my board members are getting their stuff done, and I have no doubt that their events are going to be amazing.” 

While Uduh is looking forward to all the events, she is particularly excited about Cultural Expressions. 

“It’s my favorite way to end Black History Month because it showcases all the Black and Brown students for their talent, their accomplishments and who they are – their art, their music, their culture, their dancing,” she said. “Cultural Expressions will always be my favorite Black History Month event.” 

BSU Co-president Nathaniel Smith, a sophomore, stated that Black History Month is not only a tribute to Black historical figures, but a reminder to reflect on the progress the Black community has made throughout the years. He also sees it as an opportunity to honor Black leaders of the future. 

“We always have gratefulness for people like Martin Luther King and all the people who made us who we are today, but I also think it’s a good thing to find appreciation for these figures who will be helping us out in the future,” he said. 

Uduh explained that while the Black community deserves to be celebrated and respected all year, Black History Month is a special opportunity for Black people to take pride in their heritage. 

“For me, it’s a celebration of my Blackness and how far my ancestors have come,” she said. 

Smith and Uduh, who have both been members of BSU since their respective first years, emphasized the importance of BSU in building a strong Black community at a predominantly white institution like Lawrence. When asked how people can best support Black students on campus, both Uduh and Smith expressed that attending BSU events is a great way to show support to the Black community. 

“All of the diversity organizations put so much work into their events, and sometimes it doesn’t end up the way we want because people don’t show up,” said Uduh. 

“I think Lawrence is gradually becoming more supportive, and I’m very grateful for that,” said Smith. “The biggest thing anyone can do for BSU right now is spread the word and come to our events.”