The bleachers were filled in the Hamilton Gymnasium on Friday night when the Organization of Black Unity (OBU) hosted its annual Black @ SVSU showcase.
The event is held annually in February by the RSO to commemorate Black History Month.
Last year’s Black @ SVSU festivities were held virtually through daily social media posts to highlight the talent and achievements of Black students on campus.
Laila Boggan, nursing junior and president of OBU, said the lack of a live showcase last year made the success of this year’s event even more important.
“Coming back from all of the guidelines that limited many students and organizations from meeting and planning events, we knew that whatever we did for Black @ SVSU had to be big,” she said. “We knew that OBU hosted a fashion show in the past and with all the Black businesses that are starting to grow on campus, we knew that this would be an amazing opportunity for them to get their name out while allowing other students to show off their talents.”
The event gave a platform to several businesses run by SVSU students, including KJ Apparel and Jaja Closet, with other students modeling their products for the audience to admire.
In between the fashion show portions of the event, RSOs Red Royalty and Hip-Hop Crew entertained the crowd through dance.
The members of OBU emceeing for the night also encouraged audience participation, leading group dance numbers to classics like ‘Crank That (Soulja Boy),’ ‘Stanky Legg’ and ‘The Hustle.’
Boggan said this element of togetherness highlights a defining principle of Kwanzaa called Umoja.
“Umoja is the first principle of Kwanzaa, a holiday created by our African ancestors, that involves celebrating unity within our family and community,” Boggan said. “To me, Black @ SVSU is a clear-cut example of Umoja and its definition in action. It’s seeing everyone come out and celebrate one another as we do what we do best and continue to succeed.”
Boggan also took time during the event to acknowledge all that OBU has accomplished since the publishing of their 2020 Manifesto, outlining what students on campus wanted to see change to make SVSU more inclusive for all students.
The manifesto managed to drive change in several major ways.
The outcry for more accessible resources for Black students on campus helped to push for the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs to be moved to its new, more prominent location in the Student Center.
Another point in the manifesto called for the addition of a Black Studies major.
Previously only offered as a minor, a Black Studies major will now be available for students to pursue as soon as next semester.
Boggan hopes attendees took away a sense of pride and appreciation for the Black community on campus.
“Our primary goal was for this event to expose the beauty of the Black community within SVSU […],” Boggan said. “With this, we hope that those that attend[ed] [had] the opportunity to see everything amazing that lies within the Black community at SVSU the way we have.”
OBU has several events left to celebrate Black History Month.
On Wednesday, the RSO will host a Black Alumni Meet and Greet in the Alumni Lounge at 5 p.m.
On Saturday, the RSO will hold a rally outside Curtiss Hall at 1 p.m. to commemorate 10 years since the Trayvon Martin shooting and the founding of the Black Lives Matter movement.
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