Club Corner: BSU rises to make Black culture stand out

When Black Student Union (BSU) members like senior Vince Gillen walk into club meetings, they are met with a fun environment to learn about influential Black historical figures. 

“I like this club because it’s a safe space, like a great subcommunity of students who really appreciate other cultures, not just Black student culture but also like the value of other races,” Gillen said. “It’s a home space to just chill out.”

BSU Vice President Gabrielle Lashley aims to lead accordingly to this. She says that the club is a good opportunity to educate students at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS) about a culture whose history is mostly censored. Lashley adds that when she first started going to school at DPMHS, there was a small population of Black students and she wanted to connect with other black students like herself.

“I think it’s just important to embrace all of our history, especially the parts that are mostly censored,” Lashley said. “The more knowledge you have is power. The more you know, the more you can analyze things more and become more politically aware in today’s world.”

BSU is a club that empowers black students and supporters to grow and learn about diversity. They discuss not only their own culture and lifestyle but also other cultures and their experiences. This allows for awareness as well as understanding, something they strive to instill in others. 

“I have Black History all the time in my class,” history teacher Brenda Helfing said. “So during the month, I don’t do anything different than I normally do. For BSU though, the educational part of the club during February is discussing different people’s contributions to history.”

Helfing hopes for DPMHS students to see the club as a place to come in to gain a sense of community. 

“This club is inclusive,” Helfing said. “We have non-African-American students that come to the meetings as well. It’s a way to just hang out and speak freely and we definitely hope to get more people involved. It just brings a sense of community to students.”  

BSU members like Senior Ashley Harrison have learned the importance of showcasing Black History Month from the club. But to Harrison, this holiday is more than learning about common topics such as segregation and slavery but also it’s about lesser-known figures.

“There are many reasons showcasing is important,” Harrison said. “Obviously, there’s the aspect of cultural awareness because it’s generally known about the stuff about slavery. That’s the main thing people focus on but it’s more about the Black figures, like the historical Black figures. It’s just the small stuff like that just brings awareness that Black people have had a big impact in history and they aren’t given a lot of credit where credit’s due.”

Like Harrison, Gillen recognizes the importance of showcasing Black History Month in BSU. Gillen says that it’s commonly known the discrimination the Black community has faced for years and now there’s been a growth process since then.

“It’s important to continue this sort of growth process throughout the school,” Gillen said. “It’s really healthy for faculty members and students like myself. Every club is like run through cooperation with each student. This club offers the same thing because it offers a voice to your culture.”