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St. Norbert College students celebrate Black History Month

Black Student Union hosts events to celebrate and reflect on history
Posted at 1:48 AM, Feb 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-23 02:48:26-05

DE PERE — For St. Norbert senior Miani Blackwell, freshman year was a difficult time. She moved here during the height of the pandemic, away from where her family lives in Chicago. She didn't have a sense of belonging or community in her new surroundings.

"During covid, I just felt so alone and secluded. I didn't really have that much support," said Blackwell.

During her sophomore year, a fellow track team member introduced her to the Black Student Union on campus. The group has been around since the 1970s.

The goal is to create a community for black students to share their experiences on campus and teach others about different cultures.

"It's important to put the events on because it's highlighting what has been contributed to history within Black History or from the African diaspora, and having students that identify with that culture and them being celebrated," said program coordinator for black student support Tori McNeal.

The events during Black History Month include prominent guest speakers, a Wisconsin Herd game, and a traveling museum making a stop at the campus.

For Blackwell, one of her main goals as president this year was making sure the group was accessible for everyone looking to learn about black history or those who wanted another close-knit community in their college experience.

"That was one of my main goals when I became president. Not to exclude anybody, just to make sure everybody feels welcome, everybody's learning something a little bit at least, or just has like another community to go to," said Blackwell.

McNeal says that one of the most valuable parts of the Black Student Union on campus is the lasting connections the group has that extends far beyond their time on campus.

"Just while they're here trying to make those connections, but have them also thinking of what life is like after St. Norbert College. You know, how can we prepare," said McNeal.

While her time on campus is coming to a close, Blackwell says there's one piece of advice she's learned from the group that will stick with her past graduation.

"I think one thing is just voice your opinion. Don't be shy or be scared about what others may think," said Blackwell.