This Black History Month, Gonzaga’s Black Student Union (BSU) hoped to share and inform the Gonzaga student body of the African American experience throughout the country. With big events such as the Coming to Gonzaga dinner, BSU used Black History Month to celebrate and share black culture throughout Gonzaga’s campus.
Ever since being formerly recognized in 1976, Black History month has become a permanent fixture in the United States. Originally found only in college campuses, the idea Black History Month is still not fully set in stone.
Shalon Parker, BSU’s main adviser said, “For me it is a celebration of black culture, past and present. And a remembrance of black history in the United States.”
This was echoed by Barnabas Sirak, the student liaison for BSU, who said, “I’d say it (Black History Month) is more of a celebration.”
While the celebratory tone was seen in both events and attitude throughout BSU, many saw a more educational side shine through. On Feb. 10 BSU held special allyship meeting that hoped to help the Gonzaga community as a whole join in education and celebration.
On the allyship meetings Sirak said, “The allyship meeting was for those who aren’t involved in BSU or are involved but don’t come from black identity.” It is not a big secret that Gonzaga is a campus that is not particularly diverse, thus BSU saw this month as a way to help inform those who may not know of black culture. BSU also used this meeting to build schoolwide community. Sirak continued, “We talked about what it means to be an ally and how to support black students on campus, as well as familiarizing yourself with black culture.”
“It’s more crucial that a majority white campus is aware of Black History Month,” Parker said on the importance of events like these.
The biggest event this month was the BSU dinner titled Coming to Gonzaga, a play on the classic Eddie Murphy movie. “It’s the highlight of the year for BSU,” Parker explained, “they have been working on this since November.” The event was on Feb. 16 in Hemmingson Ballroom.
The night gave those in BSU, the broader black community in Spokane, and the Gonzaga community a chance to connect and celebrate black culture. BSU served traditional African, African American, and Afro-Caribbean dishes, to the delights of those attending. Throughout the night various performances of music and spoken word brought to light and celebrated the black experience for all to see.
BSU will continue to celebrate Black History Month annually, as to them this month is seen as an important interval where they are in the spotlight. In closing Sirak said that, “we know that this is our time to teach about the things that haven’t been taught in our history classes… just knowing that this is our time to be represented and our time to shine.”