The Black Student Union overcame the restrictions of COVID-19 to host a series of events showcasing African American culture and providing the campus and community with a glimpse into the unique challenges minority students experience in higher education.
Although many of its events have shifted online this year, the University of Northern Iowa Black Student Union is still inviting campus to take part in celebrating Black History Month despite the limitations of COVID-19.
The BSU will host seven events in February - a mix of performances, exhibits and panels to showcase African American culture and provide the campus and community a glimpse into what it’s like being a Black person in today’s society.
Some events, such as the Poetry Slam and the interactive, educational event the Tunnel of Oppression, have concluded, but others, including a panel and a soul food dinner are happening in the next two weeks to educate and inform the campus community.
“We were hoping to get across the idea that Black history is not just tied to February,” said Laito Zarkpah, a fourth-year political science major and president of the BSU. “It's happening all the time and changing in so many ways.”
Zarkpah said her overall goals with the BSU are to support and prepare members to be reflective, responsible decision makers in a global, diverse and democratic society. She said it was a challenge to organize the events and to simply gather together as a community during the pandemic.
“We tried to just let our general body members know that we are still there for them in times of need, and that was a little difficult because we weren't on campus,” Zarkpah said. “But now that we're back, it’s been our focus to just gather the community together and celebrate this month.”
Events still to come include:
- A COVID-friendly soul food dinner, featuring plates of fried chicken, mac and cheese, collard greens and more offered on to-go plates. Pick-up will be from 12:30-3 p.m. on Feb. 21 at the Wesley Foundation at 2422 College St., Cedar Falls.
- A panel on the topic “Can you say the N-word?” presented to a partial live and virtual audience from 5-7 p.m. on Feb. 24 at Lang Hall.
- An RSVP-only Toast for Change event celebrating BSU’s efforts in changing the cultural dynamics across campus.
The Black Student Union is a student organization focusing on putting black students F.I.R.S.T. by emphasizing fellowship, improvement of character, rejoicing in our culture, speaking up on our issues and being the teachers of our heritage. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter.