Attendees of the dinner gather to partake in an extremely competitive dance contest. Photo courtesy of Maddy McGreal.
Attendees of the dinner gather to partake in an extremely competitive dance contest. Photo courtesy of Maddy McGreal.

BSU reminds all that we are ‘One Big Family’ at annual dinner

March 5, 2020

For the last four years, York’s Black Student Union (BSU) has held its annual Black History Month Dinner each February in order to spread appreciation and awareness of black history and share their mission.

The dinner this year was widely considered a success by club members and attendees thanks to the months of planning done by the BSU.

“We start by talking to our sponsors and getting to know our budget which comes from what we fundraised,” club member Dasha Brooks said. “We always have to communicate with different restaurants about food and pricing and we have to get the decorations and a theme, of course; our theme this year is gala so that’s why everyone came dressed to impress and then it’s just a lot of community work and making sure everyone has a job.”

The planning of the dinner is specifically for club members, not club sponsors, as the BSU is a student-led club.

“The work that goes into it, we [the sponsors] lend a helping hand and we give them [the students] space,” club sponsor Joshua Green said. “It really comes down to the members of the club who did a  phenomenal job putting everything together.”

Board Members of the BSU Ian Williams, Dasha Brooks, Zikora Nnam and Wendy Ofosu listen to club secretary Gigi Stechschulte’s opening speech. Photo courtesy of Maddy McGreal.

The dinner is used as a celebration of black history and culture, but also a way to spread the York BSU’s mission to a wider audience.

“Our mission is to educate York about black culture and spread awareness so that people know that we do have representation at york and know more about black culture so people aren’t ignorant to what we stand for and who we are,” Brooks said. 

The attendance of the dinner was made up of people from all walks of life, and this was for a very important reason.

“BSU has a very important mission statement and we strive to educate York about all cultures we make sure to maintain our mission statement through our actions by inviting lots of cultures to the dinner,” BSU Secretary Gigi Stechschulte said. “We never want anyone to feel excluded.” 

This year, the invited speaker also spoke of inclusion and united everyone despite race or gender.

“My favorite part of this entire event was Santita Jackson’s speech because I feel like she changed the entire mood of the event making it a lot more welcoming and warm for everyone,” BSU President Zikora Nnam said. “We learned a lot like regardless of our skin color we’re all family and all connected and she made it feel a lot more like a community.” 

Santita Jackson is a political commentator on Fox News, an accomplished singer who sang at the presidential inauguration of Bill Clinton, classmate and bridesmaid of former first lady Michelle Obama, and daughter of famous civil rights activist Jesse Jackson.

Invited speaker Santita Jackson is given a BSU sweatshirt by her goddaughter Dasha Brooks to say thank you for her inspiring speech and attendance of the dinner. Photo courtesy of Maddy McGreal.

“My favorite part was when Santita spoke, she is such a powerful person,” club sponsor Erin O’Connor said. “She’s on TV and radio so we were really impressed to even get her to come and then when she busted out in song at the end my heart just kind of melted it was so powerful.” 

The other performance consisted of four members of the Oak Park-River Forest(OPRF) choir who sang the Black National Anthem called ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’. 

Oak Park-River Forest choir members gathered on the stage to sing the Black National Anthem and Happy Birthday to a BSU board member Gigi Stechschulte’s younger sister. Photo courtesy of Maddy McGreal.

“My favorite part was when OPRF choir came and sang,” BSU Vice President Wendy Ofosu said.  “I heard about them through a friend and one of my friends in the choir so I asked them to come and sing, it was the first time I ever heard them sing the harmonies were immaculate.”

At the end of the night, after eating family-style and listening to the inspiring speeches and songs the BSU hosted a dance competition for everyone to partake in; a fun finish to a successful dinner.

The dance competition was narrowed to the final four as they competed intensely on stage. Photo courtesy of Maddy McGreal.

“The purpose of the BSU dinner is to educate and to celebrate black history,” Brooks said. “That’s why we do it in black history month so that it can be known that we’re celebrating our history and culture.”

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