Celebrating then and now

UNA’s Black Student Alliance encourages discussion, embraces culture

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The Black Student Alliance, also known as the BSA, is an organization that serves to highlight, aid and enhance the African-American, black experience on campus at the University of North Alabama.

“We are the collective voice and vehicle for many African-American students on campus to express themselves, in their beliefs, their feelings, and to further display and/or celebrate the rich history and culture of African-Americans,” said BSA President Keonte’ Sealy.

The BSA hosts a variety of events which reflect and celebrate the authenticity of African-American culture and ensure a friendly, welcoming outlet for students on campus to feel part of family more so than just an organization.

“Our goal is to not only continue being a safe haven for African-American students on campus, but to bring the overall awareness of the history, current atmosphere of our culture and the issues many African-Americans face on and off campus, with the goal of coming towards a solution,” Sealy said.

The organization plans to present a variety of events throughout the spring semester, although dates and locations are to be determined at the time of publication.

One of the most popular events, the BSA Fashion Show, is currently planned for the month of April. This special event highlights African-American culture through fashion aesthetics.

In this 2017 photo, University of North Alabama students gather for Culture Fest, an annual celebration of diversity. The event is one of many the Black Student Alliance promote and participate in. [PHOTOS COURTESY UNA]

“For many of us, this is very important because our style often is more than just clothing we like,” Sealy said. “It is often a staple of our history. It is, as well, a strong way to express our collective uniqueness and our individuality.”

Another signature event from BSA is the Black Excellence/History Gala in February. The Gala is meant to acknowledge and celebrate past African-American accomplishments as a group and direct attention to present-day accomplishments and goals.

“This event is an honor of the rich, significant history regarding African-Americans and the ways African-Americans are pushing forward and achieving goals on a group and individual level,” he said.

Around May, the BSA also hosts a fish fry, a celebration for all students toward the end of the semester.

“This event serves as almost a farewell party for many students on campus as it is one of the last times people may see each other before heading off into their summer breaks or graduations,” he said.

“It is essentially one of the last times students of UNA get to celebrate, cherish and bond with each other.”

Other events planned include a series of movie nights that will highlight modern-day black filmmakers and actors/actresses, a black entrepreneur recognition event — which will serve to inform students, staff and faculty of the many black-owned businesses surrounding the Shoals area — and a poetry slam event, which will serve to showcase and celebrate the creativity and the passion for writing many students on campus have.

“Others are welcome to joins us regardless of race, ethnicity or background as long as we all as a group are together to uplift and celebrate the African-American experience,” Sealy said.

The BSA have meetings every Wednesday from 4 to 5 p.m. during the scheduled academic semesters, where they have discussions about many current day events in politics, social issues and local experiences.

For more information about the Black Student Alliance, visit UNA’s student engagement website or check the event calendar at una.edu/students.