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SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

Black Student Union plays vital role on CSU Pueblo campus

Members of BSU met during its Town Hall Mixer which took place on Feb. 6. In the photo is Shay Wilson, president of BSU, standing behind a table talking to the different members that are also pictured in the image about BSU. (Photo taken by Emmanuel Jeanmarie)

The Black Student Union (BSU) is a vital student-run organization at Colorado State University Pueblo.

The organization is in the General Classroom Building (GCB), Room 111. Its mission statement: “The Black Student Union (BSU) is an inclusive cultural organization that strives to highlight and elucidate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic status of the African American community; as well as promote the development of educational opportunities, increase awareness, promote success, and discuss aspects of Black culture. We also aim to provide positive social progression and cultivate enduring organic relationships along the way, as BSU is open to all students no matter their age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation. We are all equal, therefore we are all welcome.” 

Shay Wilson, president of BSU, and BSU member Tate Kennece met with the Today to discuss their roles within the organization and its goals, and BSU’s role in celebration of Black History Month this past February.

 “My role as president of BSU is to lead the rest of the team, set up weekly meetings each week of the semester with all of our student members, as well as help plan the different events that we help put on in order to celebrate Black History Month and Women’s History Month, as our overall goal within BSU is to make sure that all voices are heard, no matter the color of their skin,” Wilson said.

“As far as my role within BSU,” Kennece added, ” I am responsible for helping with the different events that we help put on campus, along with planning and setting up for future events that we may have. I also take responsibility as someone who is a part of both REV 89.5, which is the on-campus radio station, and SOCO Student Media, which is the School of Creativity and Practice where students can gain real-life experiences in various areas, such as art and multimedia-journalism, music and video production and more; to actually help promote the stuff that BSU is a part of on campus, as I want to make sure that these events that BSU is putting on are being heard by the students, for the students, because BSU has a lot to offer and I don’t want these events that Shay has worked so hard on to not go anywhere.”  

Tate Kennece, a BSU member, is seen standing on the stage in the Hoag Hall Auditorium, holding a microphone while attending the Gospel Extravaganza event on Feb. 10. (Photo by Emmanuel Jeanmarie)

“Something that I want to accomplish within BSU is that I want to create an open and safe space for all students, no matter their skin color, because originally, I came from Gary, Ind., which is a predominantly black majority population of 87.8%, which means that a majority of my classmates looked like me,” Wilson said. “However, when I moved to Pueblo, I noticed that the population demographic changed as there was more of a Hispanic and white majority population. I also noticed that the African American students that I did know were involved in sports on campus. I had always wondered what would happen to those black and brown students on campus who weren’t involved in sports but were stereotyped as an athlete due to the color of their skin. So, for those students, I wanted to make sure that BSU was that safe space they could go to where they could not only see other students who look like them and talk like them, but also went through the same stereotyped and prejudiced experiences as them.”

Kennece agreed, saying: “I want to see BSU grow as a student organization, not just between African American students but also between other brown students of color (Hispanics/Asians; etc.), as well as between non-people of color. As a majority of people in today’s society nowadays are ignorant when it comes to certain stereotypes and situations, we as African Americans need to educate those other people on being more mindful and considerate to other people who may not look like them (i.e., people of color) as they have had to have worked twice as hard as them just to gain the same respect.” 

BSU was especially busy during Black History Month, offering movie nights; visit nights from the local Afro-scholarship organization, the Pueblo African American Concern Organization (PAACO), which helps students fill out scholarships; as well as the NAACP, which tells people how to get involved with the youth chapter here in Pueblo. 

“The first movie that I chose was “Blackkklansman”, which is about the first African American to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department, determined to make a name for himself as he infiltrates exposes the Ku Klux Klan in that area at that time,” Wilson said. “The second movie was “Judas & the Black Messiah”, which is about an African American FBI informant who infiltrated the Illinois Black Panther Party. And the last movie was “Stamped From the Beginning”, which is a documentary about the history of racism within the United States. I chose all of these movies in particular because they all have this educational piece to them about Black history in the sense that this is what we went through as African Americans historically, and this is how we overcame these stipulations/trials. ”

Another event in March was the Gospel Extravaganza.

“The Gospel Extravaganza event was an annual event that used to go on every year on campus but died down when the COVID-19 pandemic happened, along with the BSU organization itself,” Wilson said. “I picked the BSU organization back up again in early 2021, and once I had gotten myself established and comfortable as president, I had made it my mission to bring back the Gospel Extravaganza with the help of our planning coordinator, Jesse Sena, who was able to get a bunch of bands, choirs and dance groups from all across Pueblo, and the Colorado Springs area together. I was also the emcee of the entire event. The overall goal of the event was to have these different groups there to kind of create this church-like service and atmosphere (Sunday service kind of thing) for students to enjoy, as church is seen as very meaningful within the Black community. So it was cool to see students have this kind of experience.” 

The event resonated with Kennece as well. “This was my first time attending the Gospel Extravaganza event, and it was a lot more successful than I was expecting to be as there were a lot of different groups there, including a rap group, she said. “The turnout was really good as there were like 75 people there. However, I do think that if this event was promoted more efficiently the next time, there would be an even better turnout because I feel bad for the people who did not go, wanted to go but decided not to, or had not heard about the event. All in all, the event went super-smoothly, and by the end of the concert, all of the different artists who either knew each other or may not have known each other, as well as the audience, were seen as one, which I thought was really inspiring.”

Other events, according to Wilson, included “a Valentine’s Day roller skating night on Feb. 16; on Feb. 21, a Potluck & African Cultures Night, where students who from different African cultures such as Kenya, Ghana, Liberia, and Ethiopia taught us about different foods from their cultures, as well as why those foods are important to their specific cultures.”

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