It is our very first year with a Black Student Union, which means that black history month has definitely been celebrated differently here at St. John’s.
The Black Student Union was originally formed with the assistance of Ms. Watson, Mr. Mancabelli, Mr. Themistos, and a group of dedicated students after a survey was taken of several hundred students. According to Ms. Watson, this revealed that students wished to be able to talk to each other, and… talk to teachers about race related issues and cultural differences. This ended up sparking the formation of the club, which has held events throughout the month.
Events like the Brown Bag Lunch series were very important to include according to Ms. Watson. The series was in two parts, the first part discussing what it is to be a black woman, and the second part focusing on what it is to be a black man. The point of holding the series reflected the core value of having a Black Student Union in the first place. This value being creating the space to have race related conversations.
Another event hosted by the union was the “What it’s like to be Greek” presentation on the experiences of black women in sororities. The event featured two historically black sororities: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority with Howard University students from each sorority coming to perform for the students and answer questions about Greek life at an historically black university. Ms. Watson believed this was important especially for students “interested in attending an HBCU” and students interested in Greek life.
One of the last events that happened was a presentation by SJC alum and D.C. Attorney General, Karl Racine ’81. Ms. Watson believes students will benefit because Mr. Racine will be discussing how you can take your experiences as a St. John’s student and use [them] to combat systems that are inequitable. Another event will be a zoom presentation by Dr. Kern Jackson to the senior English class: Literature on Stage and Screen.
Overall, the Black Student Union has put a great amount of effort into making this black history month informative. Ms. Watson has considered this month a test run to see if we can explore other topics of a similar nature, and remarked that we must not forget that black history month runs up into today.