Black Student Union
Charles Christopher Simon sits in a comfortable leather chair in the administration building, a grey-billed hat resting on his head above square-rimmed glasses. His voice is as soft and gentle as the dimmed lights of the lobby as he speaks about SFUAD’s recently formed Black Student Union (BSU). The group came together at the end of the fall 2014 semester, just as most students were preparing for finals. “I really put myself out there,” says Simon, the group’s founder and president. “I never thought I’d do that.”
The Black Student Union meets every Thursday at 7 p.m. in Benildus room 105, though the location is subject to change. BSU Vice-President Tikia “Fame” Hudson is encouraged by the level of support the group has been receiving from SFUAD staff. “I have more faith in our university as the president of SFUAD has approved this project,” she says of the Black History Show. “And I know that if I need any help, I just have to ask.”
The BSU is guided by SFUAD Enrollment Advisors Ryan Henson and Malcom Morgan. The group refers to Henson as their mentor. In addition to faculty support, the BSU has found friends in members of Santa Fe’s local chapter of the
NAACP, some of whom will be present at the BSU’s Black History Show on Feb. 20. Hudson spoke of being inspired when the chapter’s president, George Geder, came to speak in her Ethical Responsibilities class.
The BSU is gearing up for a busy month. Over the last week, announcements went out to SFUAD students that the BSU is looking for submissions for its “I Have a Dream” art competition. The competition calls for artists to express their knowledge of black history through any visual form: paintings, photography, sculpture, digital paintings and short films up to five minutes long. Musicians and writers can also collaborate with film students to produce a piece for consideration by a judging panel made up of university head chairs. Cash prizes will be awarded for first through seventh place, ranging from $25 up to $150.
Even after the 5 p.m., Feb. 6 deadline for entries, students still have more opportunities to express their passion for black history. Auditions for the Black History Show will be held from 7 p.m. through 10 p.m. at the Forum on the evening of Feb. 6. Any students wishing to audition are asked to perform the piece that they would like to present in the show.
The winners of the “I Have a Dream” art competition will be announced at the Black History Show and afterward will be displayed around campus for everyone to enjoy. The show will consist of music, dancing and monologues, though the group is open to all forms of artistic expression. The greatest achievements in black music and indeed in music in general, will be represented, ranging from funk to blues to jazz. The show will open with Nina Simone’s Four Women. The piece has a soulful, slow-roasted bossa nova rhythm and tells the story of fourAfrican American women.
Hudson is quick to note that anyone interested in taking part in the show is free to do so. Whether acting, singing or dancing in the Black History Show, producing a painting or film for the “I Have a Dream” competition, or just participating in BSU meetings in general, all students are welcome. The mission statement of the BSU states that it is “an organization of unity and understanding. We welcome all individuals to participate in our events.”
“Black history is American history,” adds BSU Secretary Jasmine Man. “We want to highlight unity.”
Simon hopes the event will become a tradition at SFUAD. “It’s a celebration of life in general. We get a month of black history and we want to celebrate along with artists who are looking to share their gifts. I’ve seen the level of talent we have at this school and it’s up to here,” he says and raises his hand high above his head.