In celebration of Black History Month, the Case Western Reserve University Black Student Union (BSU) presented “A Walk through Time: A History of Collegiate Living for Young African Americans.” The event fell between two bazaars titled “Black Excellence: Then and Now,” both of which were hosted by the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences’ Collective Action Toward Social Justice (CATSJ).
On Feb. 22 and 27, “Black Excellence: Then and Now” sought to highlight black-owned businesses in the Cleveland community. In the Mandel School atrium, the bazaar-style event featured bakers, jewelers, clothing designers, perfumers, author and social worker Keesha McMillian, and many others.
Business owners were excited to share their successes with event-goers. More than 15 businesses were represented between both dates, and all students and community members were welcome to discuss various aspects of the business owners’ journeys.
“A Walk through Time,” which took place on Sunday, Feb. 25 in the Thwing Center, featured presentations from keynote speaker Vincent Holland, as well as Greek organizations Sigma Gamma Rho and Omega Psi Phi. An interactive exhibit contained live “wax” models representing prominent African-American figures in education.
“Growing up, we often see Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X—civil rights related figures,” BSU Vice Chair of Administration, Munya Mangwende said, “whereas there are other facets, such as education.”
With this theme, the “wax” models allowed students to learn about individuals such as Mae Jemison, Thurgood Marshall and W.E.B DuBois, whose successes were rooted in educational achievement.
The event also featured soul food, followed by a fashion show. During the show, student models highlighted six decades of African-American fashion beginning in the 1960s. To obtain information about each decade’s trends and icons, BSU Vice Chair of Programming, Kendall McConico, reached out to individuals who attended college in each decade.
“I wanted to celebrate our culture in a different way,” McConico said.
McConico sought to educate students beyond the hardships faced by African-Americans, and saw the fashion show as a fun way to achieve that goal.
BSU received positive feedback from students who attended the event.
“It was amazing,” said second-year student Lesulayomi Kupluyi.
Kupluyi also enjoyed modeling for the fashion show, where he represented the 1990s.
BSU plans to host the event annually, with changes in the date and time to encourage more students and community members to attend. Additional advertising will also play an important role in reaching a wider range of students.
McConico explained that because the event is hosted by BSU, those considering attending might assume it is only for African-American students. She hopes to more explicitly welcome all individuals to future events by increasing its promotion around campus.