Each year, the Black LatinX Student Union (BLSU) hosts a packed assembly for Black History Month (BHM) to share and celebrate important pieces of Black history. The programming for the assembly is led entirely by the students in BLSU and includes informational presentations, art, and music all in one event.
The first presentation of the assembly came from Asia F. ’22, and gave an overview on the role of women in the Black Panther Party, saying that it is “important to shed light on misconceptions” about the party’s history as a complex and multifaceted organization alongside highlighting the women who worked within communities to shape change. The women featured included Tarika Lewis, Kathleen Cleaver, Lynn French, and Angela Davis.
Following Asia’s presentation, 12tones (Emma Willard School’s senior a cappella group) performed a rendition of “Stand By Me” (members of the group emphasized that the audio and video are not perfectly synched). Watch their performance here
Several students presented on allyship, offering information about performative activism versus true allyship. The presentation centered on the rise in social justice infographics following the appropriation of Blackout Tuesday hashtags in June 2020, and how sharing posts on social media contributes to superficial appeals to appear anti-racist, rather than truly engaging in social change. The presentation ended by offering suggestions for how to be a more effective activist: fact-checking and engaging with in-depth learning rather than passively sharing trending graphics.
A step dance performance recorded in Lyon-Remington brought a moment of genuine joy to the assembly, featuring behind-the-scenes and blooper moments intercut with the dance:
Continuing the artistic theme, Gabby P. ’23 and Angie A. ’24 presented a slideshow of her favorite and significant Black artists spanning a multitude of disciplines. Kehinde Riely, Zadie Smith, Ernest Withers, and Kara Walker were just some of the artists featured.
The slideshow concluded with art by Emma Willard Students, and included an explanation from Gabby about her current art concentration, including some work-in-progress.
“The theme [of my work] is Black women in particular,” she said, explaining that she wants to show Black women with a multitude of skin tones in paintings.
One of Gabby’s in-progress paintings.
A piece by Angie, with her artist statement.
Bella H. ’23 and Crystal S. ’23 performed a spoken word poem, “Black Joy” (with some alterations).
The audience was given a chance to flex their Black History knowledge with a friendly game of jeopardy. Categories covered five disciplines: music, movies/tv, culture, geography, and even featured a random or mystery category. Questions covered a wide range of Black history, such as: Who was the first Black second baseman? What does RnB stand for? Name three countries in West Africa.
To close out the assembly, BLSU brought the good vibes with another virtual Soul Train procession featuring Beyonce’s “Before I Let Go” and Stevie Wonder’s “Uptight”. Members of the entire Emma community were spotlighted on Zoom, dancing with friends, in offices, and even in advisory groups throughout campus. Black Joy was on full display and our appreciation of BLSU’s efforts were echoed by the dancing zoom bubbles filling our screens.
Celebrations on Mount Ida will continue not only throughout the month of February, but all year long, as we acknowledge the countless ways Black history has influenced our world. We would like to thank and congratulate BLSU for another year of impactful programming and allowing us to share the joy you bring to our community each and every day.