June 13, 2024

CBU’s Black Student Union kicked off Black History Month with their newly titled Melanin Mosaic. Featuring a panel of African American faculty, a live music performance and a giveaway, this event was a healthy mixture of fun and philosophy. 

 The Melanin Mosaic differed from previous installments of BSU’s Black History Month event in that it focused on bringing the community together through education. 

Kene Thomas, senior psychology major and president of BSU, shared that the primary goal of the Melanin Mosaic was to celebrate Black culture in a way that allows CBU’s diverse student body to appreciate different aspects of it. 

“Our purpose behind the event was to celebrate and showcase the beauty of Black culture through an immersive and educational event,” Thomas said. “By weaving together various traditions and expressions, we wanted to host an event that honors the vibrancy of Black culture while educating others on the depth and diversity of our heritage. With this in mind, we titled the event Melanin Mosaic because we wanted to collectively showcase different pieces of Black culture, including traditional practices like the Black national anthem, food, music and history and how these things contribute to Black culture.”

One of the standout elements of the event was the music. Students were greeted with a well-curated playlist of jazz and instrumentals. 

There was also a live performance by RYCE, an artist who is also a student at CBU. 

Thomas stated the organization’s desire to “make a point to showcase Black excellence,” which they achieved by allowing RYCE to have a platform and reach the CBU community through his original music. 

“Music plays a significant role in Black culture and history,” Thomas said. “It’s something that not only brings people together but has been historically used to tell a story.”

Thomas explained that reciting “Lift Every Voice,” often referred to as the Black National Anthem, was another crucial aspect of the music, as it reflects the roots of African American history. 

“We wanted to begin the event with the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice,” to honor Black tradition and as a time of reflection,” Thomas said. “This song was a hymn written in the 1900s and was often sung during Civil Rights demonstrations and events, as it was symbolic of unity and a call for justice.”

The main attraction of the Melanin Mosaic was the panel of African American faculty who shared their experiences of achieving higher education. David Hardy, junior intercultural studies major, shared how their discussion inspired him in his life and academics. 

“My favorite part of the event was getting a closer perspective of the Black community and minority groups like Dr. Horton on the panel. It was really eye-opening, and I hope to be able to be a good listener, friend and learner going forward,” Hardy said.

Thomas stated that the discussion was designed to bring the Black community closer and initiate a dialogue with students from other ethnic groups. 

“We felt it was important to address the role of non-Black individuals in allyship and what it looks like to come alongside our community and support peers and colleagues,” Thomas said. “Additionally, our hope was that this panel discussion would spark further conversation and reflection amongst peers and communities across campus about what diversity and effective allyship should look like in an effort to build an inclusive environment for all students.”

Marc Agbayani, graduate student in English, stated how this discussion spoke to his experiences and Filipino background. He noted that the panel made him feel validated and educated him on African American culture.

“I thought that the panel was very informative,” Agbayani said. “It was interesting to hear about the panelists’ life experiences, and I liked how they offered advice for new and returning students who may feel insecure about their race. It was great to see the support they shared for the African American community, and their tight-knit camaraderie allowed for a very welcoming atmosphere.”

Accompanying the panel was an array of food, including various flavors of chicken wings, fried macaroni and cheese bites, and fresh peach cobbler. 

Additionally, the event finished with a raffle, where students could win some expensive prizes, such as Sony headphones. 

David Hardy shared his appreciation for these elements and  acknowledged the passion necessary to develop this unique event. 

“I think the panel was a great part of it, and the intersecting sections of singing and the raffle questions were amazing,” Hardy said. “In my experience, there hasn’t been a club I’ve been aware of where there is an investment in keeping the culture alive in that way. It’s really fascinating to think about.”

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