UNI student organization celebrates Black History Month

The Black Student Union at the University of Northern Iowa launched a celebration Monday of Black History Month with a kick-off ceremony at the Maucker Union, featuring chants, poetry and interpretive dances.

It was the first of a month-long series of events to showcase African American culture and provide the campus and community with a glimpse into the unique challenges minority students experience in higher education.

With a theme of “remembering the past while shaping our future,”  the February events will feature a mix of performances, exhibits and panels, including several new events designed to be both entertaining and educational.

“We want to show people our culture and our words and show them that it is beautiful and multifaceted,” said NeiAira Burt, vice president of the Black Student Union. “This is our time to celebrate, but this is not just for black and brown students. This is a time for everyone to get together and celebrate and learn about our culture and experiences.”

  • The BSU awards are a new addition to the Black History Month celebration and will give students a chance to showcase their singing, dancing, comedic and poetic talents. The event starts at 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7 in Lang Hall.
  • The BSU Skate Party, a popular annual event, will be held from 6-9 p.m. on Feb. 15 in the Wellness and Recreation Center. The evening will feature R&B music, as well as prizes for the best dressed and best skater. BSU will be accepting two donated cans of food as the price of admission. Skates will be provided, but supplies are limited and the event organizers encourage attendees to bring their own skates if possible.
  • Another new event, B.A.E., which stands for Black and Educated, will feature a panel of six black professionals who will speak about their individual journeys through the education system and how it shaped their careers and lives. The panel will convene from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18 in the Maucker Union Ballroom.
  • The Tunnel of Oppression is the most important event of the month, according to the BSU. “If you don’t come to any other event, this is the one we really encourage everyone to come to,” said Laito Zarkpah, BSU secretary. The event will be a tour through different rooms that lasts about 30 minutes. Each room represents an oppression that Black Americans face. The eye-opening event will be held from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20 on the first floor of Lang Hall.
  • A soul food dinner will be served following a sermon that starts at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23 at the Gift Life Church on 1651 Sycamore St. in Waterloo.
  • The final event of the celebration will be the Toast for Change, held from 5-8 p.m. on Sunday, March 1 in the Commons Ballroom. The event will toast graduating BSU members and recognize volunteers, donors and sponsors for their efforts to make positive changes on campus.