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Black History Month at Emory!

Hello to all of my favorite readers! Welcome to our February blog post with your favorite author of all time, Javian! February is truly the month of love, and I feel even more love here on Emory’s campus during this time of year. Black History Month is incredibly important to many here on campus, and we all emphasize the presence of this unique, important, and beautiful time. Black History Month is a time when Emory University, like many other institutions across the United States, engages in a wide range of activities and events to honor and celebrate the contributions, history, and culture of African Americans. 

During this month, Emory University typically organizes various programs, including lectures, workshops, performances, and exhibitions, to educate and inspire the university community about the achievements and challenges of Black Americans throughout history. Although this is only my second Black History Month at Emory, there have been an array of different events that I will carry with me for a lifetime, and I’d love to share these experiences with you all. 

Black Emory is an incredible group of students and faculty that all work together to uplift the voices of the Black diaspora, which is especially important at a predominately white institution. As the incoming President of the Afro-Latinx Student Association (ALSA), I work tirelessly in order to amplify the voices of my fellow brothers and sisters, being minorities within minorities. This association serves as a critical space for students to explore and affirm their dual heritage, which is frequently marginalized or overlooked in broader societal and academic discourse. By highlighting and celebrating the unique experiences, histories, and contributions of Afro-Latinx individuals, such an organization not only enriches the campus cultural landscape but also challenges monolithic narratives around Latinidad and Blackness.

Being a brand new organization on campus, we have many plans that will uplift the voices of many. This month, we are putting on a Bachata Workshop for anyone to come and learn the beauty of dancing Bachata!

On top of ALSA, we have many other Black-based organizations here on campus, such as five different active Divine 9 Organizations (NPHC), the Black Student Alliance (BSA), the African Student Association (ASA), the Association of Caribbean Educators and Students (ACES), and many more. 

One of my absolute favorite ways to get information from my fellow peers is to simply interview them! These are real conversations I have with people, about topics that are extremely important to everyone involved, giving everyone incredible takeaways. I talked to Leonard Henshaw (26C), who is the treasurer of the African Student Association. The most important question that came to the front of my mind was: “How has your involvement in this organization influenced your perspective or experience as a student?”

Zuri African Dance Troupe performing at Emory’s African Student Association yearly gala event: Taste of Africa

Henshaw responded: “In an environment where it is relatively easy to feel isolated/underrepresented, ASA has given me that sense of community and network needed for both my personal and academic success. Creating a space where I can feel at home without having to justify or explain my cultural background”. These different cultural organizations on campus are truly places where students can find a community that they would not find elsewhere, which is an extremely valuable experience.

On top of these cultural organizations, we also have academic organizations that cater towards the Black diaspora, such as Black & Latinx in Stem (BLIS), Goizueta Black Student Alliance (GBSA), Black Male Initiative (BMI), Emory University National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and many more. These Black academic organizations are essential for creating supportive communities where Black students can find mentorship, academic support, and a sense of belonging. They advocate for diversity and inclusion, enriching the educational environment by promoting understanding and collaboration across different backgrounds.

When speaking to the Membership Chair of the NSBE and President of the “Alluring” Alpha Tau Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated, Cayra Williams (24C), I asked her, “What advice would you give to students interested in learning about or supporting Black history and culture?”.

The “Alluring” Alpha Tau Chapter putting on an event during Black History Month, teaching womxn how to market themselves in the professional world.

Wiliiams told me: “My advice to students interested in supporting Black history and culture is to actively engage with our organization and similar groups on campus. Participate in events, volunteer for initiatives, and attend educational programs to deepen your understanding of Black contributions and challenges. Emory offers numerous opportunities through cultural events, mentorship, and academic courses focused on African American studies. Your involvement, openness to learn, and commitment to inclusivity can significantly enrich both your personal growth and our campus community.”

Black Emory truly moves me daily, and as a Black student here, it gives me hope that we will always take up a positive space at a predominately white institution. Although this is true, I can say that Emory gives us an amazing space to celebrate our culture and ensure that we are staples of this campus, something that I absolutely adore about attending Emory University. 

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