GV Black Student Union and other organizations honor Black History Month


GVL / Samuel Nelson

Ashley Moubray, Staff Writer

Throughout February, many clubs across Grand Valley State University have been celebrating Black History Month. 

The Black Student Union (BSU) is just one organization promoting unity and inclusion among all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexuality. During Black History Month especially, BSU has been focused on celebrating the Black community. 

BSU’s Social Media Coordinator, Maya Woodson, said the organization has been taking extra steps to showcase Black happiness and community. BSU’s Instagram page has highlighted historical facts and stories about Black firsts and Black excellence. 

BSU partnered with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. to host a game night featuring black history, pop culture and music. On Feb. 15, the BSU will put on “Trap ‘n Paint” to promote black music from the 1990s and 2000s. 

While these efforts are student-org-led, Woodson said GVSU could do more to help “uplift” Black organizations. Out of roughly 400 clubs, only 18 are Black-led. 

Woodson said the university involves itself most with Black organizations during Martin Luther King Jr. week and Black History Month. While the university’s support during these times of celebration is appreciated, Woodson said she wishes there was continuous promotion as Black-led organizations do not disappear once February is over. She emphasized the point that it would mean a lot to students of color if GVSU promoted Black excellence and history more prominently throughout the year. 

“Black history is not just Black history,” Woodson said. “It’s everyone’s history.”

GVSU sophomore Mere Morris said the current efforts to promote Black history are not enough. Word-of-mouth from her professors and other students are the only reasons she knew about events honoring Black history. 

“It’s nice that the university is doing stuff to promote Black History Month but I think it could do more to make students know about the events,” Morris said. 

The importance of Black history is not exclusive to Black History Month and is crucial to many students’ lives. Woodson’s father participated in the Oklahoma protests in the 1960s and his experiences are important in her personal life and work at the BSU. 

“Hosed down, put in jail, chased and bit by police dogs and spat on all at ages, six and seven – Black History Month allows me to reflect that we’re not far removed from the previous unjust treatment African Americans had to endure in this country,” Woodson said. 

Woodson said Black History Month was built on people of color coming together to share their own stories and that it allows for reflection, unity and understanding. Black History Month allows people across campus – and across the nation – to honor Black people and culture. 

“Black History Month is like a full-circle moment in a sense,” Woodson said. “Without those sacrifices, I wouldn’t be here at this university.”

The BSU and other Black-led student organizations are not alone in their pursuits. GVSU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) supports all diverse populations on campus. Woodson said many of the OMA faculty members are people of color. OMA faculty can offer different perspectives and skills to students when problems arise. 

Woodson said OMA has consistently provided meaningful feedback and support.

“It’s a safe space for the organization and us as individuals,” Woodson said. “It’s our one-stop-shop.”

The BSU and other organizations will continue to host informational and celebratory Black History Month events throughout February. To learn more about Black history and join in on the celebrations, students can visit BSU’s Instagram or contact the OMA for more information regarding meetings, Black History Month events and other activities.