Hamline News

Celebrating 50 Years of Black Excellence at Hamline

February is Black History Month and this year members of the Black Student Collective are celebrating their 50th anniversary as a Hamline University student organization. The theme "Still We Rise: Fifty Years of Black Excellence at Hamline University" inspired amazing events throughout the month, including an upcoming gala on Saturday, March 2.

The Black Student Collective (BSC), formerly known as PRIDE Black Student Alliance, started in 1969 during the Civil Rights Movement. It was the first organization for students of color at Hamline. To recognize achieving 50 years of existence, the BSC’s theme reflects on the history and success of previous generations. Black History Month is a wonderful time to reflect on the past.

"Hamline and the BSC have really centered me in celebrating Black History Month,” said BSC Co-Coordinator for Black History Month events Oubeida Ouro-Akondo. “This month is really important because it allows us to remember the people before us whose actions are very impactful on the way we live in the world today.”

To celebrate, the BSC put together events throughout the month of February, including an open house, keynote address, documentary showing, and alumni panel. At the beginning of March, they will be hosting the BSC 50th Anniversary Gala.

“I think it is important to celebrate Black History Month because it recognizes achievements by black people and helps to acknowledge the central role black people have played in U.S. history,” said senior Mariah Ortega-Flowers. “It is important to honor the people that have come before us. However, I wish that learning about black history was not just delegated to one month. It should be something that is learned year-round. It is an important part of U.S. history.”

Former Pipers shared their own history, stories and experiences at the immersive “Growing and Glowing” alumni panel, held on Tuesday, February 19. The panel included six alumni from classes 1975 - 2018. The six alumni were Willie Johnson ’75, Eric Goodlow ’93, Alex Leonard ’02, Laura Mann Hill ’06, Jamesetta Collins ’15, and Tottiana Duffy ’18.

In an engaging conversation between panelists and an audience of students, faculty, staff, and friends, panelists spoke about their experiences being black students at Hamline. They also spoke about their education and successes.

“My favorite part of the panel was hearing from the class of ‘75 alumnus about what it was like to go to college during a time where a lot of professors didn't necessarily want you there,” said Ortega-Flowers. “It was also interesting to hear from the class of ‘93 panelist who was at Hamline during Desert Storm.”

The final event for the celebration is the 50th Anniversary Gala which will be held on Saturday, March 2 from 6 p.m. – 12 a.m. in Anderson Forum. It will include a reception, community speakers, dinner, and awards to recognize people in the community. The keynote speaker for the gala is Juanita (Boyd) Freeman ‘05, the first African American Judge in Washington County.

Written by Emma Larson and Autumn Vagle