There are not many dinners where you begin by reciting the Black National Anthem and end by making the Wakanda Pose. These were all moments that occurred during the Black Student Union’s (BSU) annual cultural dinner, which took place last Wednesday, Feb. 28, in the McCarthy Center. The dinner was both a reunion and a celebration of the black USF community.
This year’s dinner focused on reuniting the black community at USF. Students presented their experiences at USF, and the three guest speakers from different places of influence on campus, past and present, came to present. “Our objective is to give everyone a chance to rejoice and reflect on the accomplishments of our black community at the University of San Francisco,” said senior Kyle Bates, president of BSU, in his introduction.
This year’s speakers were Pamela Balls Organista, Associate Dean For Social Sciences, Professor Betty Taylor, the first black Academic Dean to be appointed at USF and Adrienne M. Riley, who served on USF’s Board of Trustees from 1995 to 2004. Past presenters for this same event included the likes of activist Angela Davis and Kristin Jones, special assistant to former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Balls Organista’s research focuses on health issues in underserved populations, ethnic minority psychology, community-based research and preventive interventions. She is involved in the implementation of the new Black Achievement and Student Engagement (BASE) Program which will begin this fall. While Balls Organista and Riley focused on black excellence at USF and the accomplishments of BSU, Taylor called upon the students to be active in the political world and make changes that they want to see.
Juniors Anthony Norman III, Ebony Azumah and Teia Tyler presented poems, expressing their thoughts about the black experience at USF and in the U.S. in general. In Norman’s poem, titled “I Pledge,” he read, “That flag in the air meant there would be liberty and justice for all / I just wanted to check, because it seems like you forgot / I have yet to see liberty and justice for all those who look like me.”
Isatou Maranah, BSU’s director of finance, said they hope attendees, after seeing these speakers, get a sense of community from the event. “To eat a whole bunch of food and see a whole bunch of successful people and think, ‘this is awesome.’ And motivate freshmen to keep [the sense of community] going,” she said.
Ebony Azumah, BSU’s events coordinator, added, “When you inspire one person you can end up inspiring a community.”
Featured Photo: Betty Taylor, the first black academic dean appointed at USF, was among the speakers at BSU’s cultural dinner and was introduced by BSU president Kyle Bates. TIMOTHY FADER/FOGHORN