Thirty-degree weather didn’t ruin the Black Student Association’s cookout event on the final day of Black History Month.
“My favorite part was the people,” Blen Hussain, BSA’s secretary, wrote in an email. “They came out, they ate, they wanted seconds, they danced, laughed, and at the end told me how much fun it was, how much they needed to unwind like that and how they loved the food. It was a beautiful way to engage with people that otherwise have so much going on that they do not usually have the time to sit back and enjoy or socialize.”
Hussain wrote that the turnout for the event Thursday night was good because more than 50 people came, BSA completely ran out of food, and almost all the Kool-Aid was gone, even though the event was moved from the Stella Firepit to Stella Russell Hall because of the cold.
“I loved the response to this event,” Hussain wrote. “BSA wanted this to be a diverse event that brought a variety together. It was more than just eating and dancing. It was listening to a lot of ‘black music’ and old dances and watching so many different races and nationalities participate. It was simply fulfilling.”
Hussain wrote that a month of preparation went into the event.
“BSA contacted Darrell Smoot to get advice and recruited him to cook for us,” she wrote. “He was more than willing and simply a blessing to this whole event. He guided us and made this a success. I, as a Natural & Social Sciences Representative asked SGA to help fund this event because this is something students would benefit from. Initially, we had planned to use the Stella Fire pit as the location because we were hoping for good weather. Residence Life was very cooperative in letting us use Stella Hall as a back-up spot in case we needed it.”
BSA hosted a variety of events in February, including a clothing donation drive, a Read-In event with the West Library on the Angie Thomas novel ‘The Hate You Give,’ a lunch and lecture event with the Diversity and Inclusion Council featuring guest speaker Dale Long, and Thursday’s cookout to make their presence known on campus and celebrate Black History Month.
Like the cookout, the lunch and lecture event featuring Long on Feb. 22 as also well attended.
“My expectations for the event was that I would know most of the students that came in. I did not. I enjoyed that they came and they ate. I hope to see them at the lecture,” said BSA President Kiana Veasley.
After the lunch students packed into Martin Hall to listen to Long talk about the importance of faith, education, and doing something for somebody else.
“My favorite part of the event, I guess speaking for everybody, is hearing Mr. Long talk about how he came up. I’m sure he’s going to get into detail about the Birmingham bombing of the church, how that event occurred in his life, how he grew from it, and what he did to help others,” said Melvin Smith, BSA’s treasurer.
Two of the big takeaways from the lunch and lecture event Hussain said she hoped people got were knowledge and understanding.
“The biggest takeaway is that we understand diversity is a thing and that we’re not going to be able to get rid of it, and we should instead focus our energy to be more inclusive, more understanding, and just broaden our horizons,” Hussain said. “While this is partly hosted by Black Student Association, it’s not just for black students only; it is for all students. It’s just better education, better communication, and better connections.”
Hussain wrote that she hopes the cookout becomes an annual tradition.
“This school needs more permanent community building and diverse events and I think this would be a perfect one,” Hussain wrote. “This event and the planning that went in to it has educated me a lot on black culture and overall history. I want more people to experience that.”
BSA’s next meeting is 3 p.m. Wednesday at the West Library.