May 25, 2024

Lauren Shelburne | Banner Raygena Smith (center), senior political science major and vice president of United, handed out flyers to Derrick Celestine, sophomore civil engineering major and Vanessa Johnson, senior communication studies major, to recruit new members Feb. 5 at the club fair. Smith encouraged students walking by to attend “Dream.”

United’ members educate about diversity; entertain through ‘Dream’ event

Student club United: Celebrating Campus Diversity celebrated Black History Month Feb. 18 with a cultural showcase called “Dream” at the Stamps Courtyard.

For their second year since forming the club, United has brought students of different minorities together on campus at California Baptist University. They work to educate others about cultures by hosting community events for fellow students.

“Our main goal is to raise awareness about diversity on campus and have events that voice our students’ opinions — who are minorities on campus — because our school is expanding,” said Raygena Smith, senior political science major and vice president of United.

Last year the event featured an open mic and poetry slam but Smith and Grayson Bell, senior public relations major and president of United, had bigger plans for this year’s celebration.

Club members, with a few outside guests, performed for the crowd, displaying their talents and culture. With a range of music from soul to Broadway and gospel being showcased, students displayed their personal style and discussed the cultural influences in their style for the fashion show. A slideshow of influential black figures played in the background during the show, and the new club, “Undefeated Praisers,” performed a mixture of African and praise dances.

“It was challenging, but we want to do this and have our school celebrate Black History Month and make sure it is being celebrated years after we graduate,” Smith said.

Bell said the theme of “Dream” is to follow your dreams through adversity and to never give up. He said he hopes the event will continue after he and Smith graduate, leaving their legacy. Bell said he is happy “Dream” strayed from the normal Black History Month celebrations that are usually performed.

“We do not walk away knowing the fullness of Black History Month typically,” Bell said. “It is so many things: It is music, dance, poetry. It is so many different things other than just the ‘We Shall Overcome’ march down Washington. We want to educate but also entertain and engage.”

Bell said no matter one’s ethnicity everyone faces adversity. Smith and Bell said they hoped to unite students through their show. As CBU grows and expands, many cultures are joining the campus and Smith said that while awareness is being initiated, students also need to reach out more to others.

“Being here for four years I have seen our school grow from a small reputation of minorities to seeing the campus be as diverse as it is now and knowing it is only going to grow,” Bell said. “As the population grows, the culture needs to grow with it.”

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