The Black Student Union is an inclusive, off-campus group that works to promote discussions and a cultural celebration.
“The main purpose is to just find a place where all of us can talk and…educate each other,” said Loretta Kumire, a senior studying communication. “It is a way for us to come together and share our experiences.”
Moronie Raphael, a sophomore majoring in international studies, moved to the United States from Haiti at 11. She enjoys hearing the perspectives of black students from around the world, and says that although she is not African American, there are many issues that do relate to her as a person of color.
The group began with having discussions on social issues and other topics every Sunday, but along with those Sunday discussions, they host guest speakers and cultural celebrations. Juneteenth, which marks the end of slavery in the U.S., is among one of the many celebrations.
According to Henry Louis Gates, Jr. of PBS, Juneteenth is a combination of ‘June’ and 19th, a commemoration of the 1865 day when slaves in Texas were informed of the emancipation proclamation, the proclamation that had gone into effect two and a half years earlier.
Today, it is celebrated as the true end of slavery in the U.S.
“It is marked as… the day no one needed to worry about belonging to anybody or being confined in any way,” Kumire said.
On the evening of June 22, the Black Student Union celebrated the holiday with a cookout. Students danced and chatted while enjoying the barbecue.
Isley Young, a sophomore studying sociology, is a member of BSU. When asked why students get involved, her answer was simple.
“It is cool to see people who look like you,” Young said.
Young encourages all students who are interested in the group to attend.
“I feel like a lot of people think that it’s (closed to black students) and they see us as trying to riot or bash other cultures,” Young said. “It’s more about coming together and learning about other people’s cultures.”
Young added that the gatherings are not limited to discussion.
“We like to eat food,” Young said.
According to Kumire, discussion topics range from finding a place in the school to how to serve other minority groups. In fact, Kumire said guest speakers have included representatives from USGA Rexburg (Understanding Sexuality, Gender and Allyship). They also discuss topics related to student’s countries of origin. From islands like Jamaica and Haiti to African countries to the U.S., black students at BYU-Idaho come from all over the world.
Students interested in getting involved or attending an activity can follow the Black Student Union on Instagram @byuibsu.