Supporting Racial Justice during Black History Month in February

Group shot of members of the Black Student Association
Group shot of Black Student Association members
The Black Student Association officers include, back row, (left to right), Abria Doe, director of Alumni Relations; Indya Peden, director of Community Engagement; and Christie St. Vil, director of Alumni Relations; and front row, (left to right): D Huey, vice president; Melissa Ndiaye, president; and Nkosi Watts, secretary.

Given the racial climate in America, the Black Student Association hopes members of the Stetson community will attend its events during Black History Month and learn more about racial injustice.

BSA President Melissa Ndiaye says she sees many people joining the Black Lives Matter movement, showing up for protests or supporting the renaming of streets in its honor. But not all of these people are committed to fighting for change for African Americans.

Melissa Ndiaye

“Like during the Black Lives Matter protests when you see celebrities taking pictures with the sign and claiming they’re marching,” she said. “The next thing you know, they’re off doing something else. … That’s performative activism.”

Instead, the movement needs people to demand law enforcement treat people of color with respect and, if not, be held accountable. Or supporters could push for an end to America’s mass incarceration of people of color.

“We’re not hosting these events just for our members,” said Ndiaye, a senior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Africana studies. “We host these for everyone in the Stetson community to come and enjoy our organization, but also learn and be educated.”

Jeremy Levitt, PhD, JD

A few of their February events will address social justice issues. Jeremy Levitt, PhD, JD, an International Law professor at Florida A&M University College of Law, will speak about “The Real MLK,” exploring the civil rights leader’s more radical thoughts and actions, on Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m.

A Sunday Dinner on Feb. 13 will allow members to talk in-depth about mental health in the Black community as they deal with not only the pandemic but also racial injustices nationwide.

In addition, BSA will host their signature events, including a Step Show in collaboration with Phi Beta Sigma Incorporated on Feb. 18, Trap Karaoke on Feb. 19 and the BSA Ball on Feb. 25. The ball will feature a 1970s theme, commemorating the founding of the Stetson Afro-American Society, the predecessor of the Black Student Association.

Dan’Nyija Huey

BSA will invite alumni from that time to the ball, allowing current students to learn about the graduates’ experiences in the 1970s. The Afro-American Society and BSA have both played a key role in supporting Black students at Stetson, said BSA Vice President Dan’Nyija Huey, a sophomore pursuing a double major in ​​Political Science and History with a minor in Africana studies.

“It’s about finding a community of our own,” she said. “We want that community feeling, especially at a predominantly white institution.”

Patrick Coggins, PhD, JD

In 1970, a group of students started the Stetson Afro-American Society as an informal group. “They wanted to have a group where they can talk, where they can be supportive of each other,” said Patrick Coggins, PhD, JD, professor of Education and faculty advisor to the BSA.

Coggins was hired at Stetson in 1991 to develop courses in multicultural education, a multicultural student center and other programs for African American students. He recommended the student group change its name to the Black Student Association and be recognized as an official group.

“With the formation of the BSA, we saw two things begin to happen,” Coggins explained. “Number one, we saw a high degree of retention. Students were not coming and leaving after the first year because for the first time they experienced a welcoming climate that was related to their culture.

“Most importantly, the BSA enabled the campus to focus on Black History Month, support multicultural courses and support the new minor in Africana studies, which continue to define our campus today,” he said.

-Cory Lancaster

graphic that says, Black History MonthBlack History Month events

• Escape Room Event
Friday, Feb. 4, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
DeLand Escape Room

• Comedy Lab with Magician Ran’D Shine
Friday, Feb. 11, 7 – 9 p.m.
Lee’s Garage

• Sunday Dinner
Feb. 13, 7 – 9 p.m.
Lee’s Garage
Dinner for members to talk in-depth about mental health in the Black community.

• Do You know your Black History?
Wednesday, Feb. 16, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
On social media
A social media experiment to ask questions about Black History trivia.

• Divine Nine History & Step Show
Friday, Feb. 18, 6 – 8 p.m.
Allen Hall
BSA will give a history of strolling and stepping as part of Black Greek Letter Organizations and culture. Phi Beta Sigma Incorporated will perform a step show.

• Trap Karaoke with Latinx Student Union and Caribbean Student Association
Saturday, Feb. 19, 6 – 9 p.m.
Lee’s Garage
Trap Karaoke will be ‘90s vs. 2000s themed.

• The Real MLK with Dr. Jeremy Levitt
Thursday, Feb. 24, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Rinker Welcome Center
Dr. Levitt is an International Law Professor at Florida A&M University College of Law.

• BSA Ball
Friday, Feb. 25, 7 – 10 p.m.
Tentative location: Rinker Field House
The BSA Ball is themed, “Boogies for the 1970s,” and will include talk about the Stetson
Afro-American Society in the 1970s.

• Send a Sing a Gram
Feb. 1 to Feb. 14
Tabling in front of the CUB
Send roses, cards and a song playlist from a secret admirer.

• Black Boy Joy and Black Girl Magic Campaign
All of February
Social Media
The goal is to promote self-love via videos within the Black community.