By Mallory Harris | Staff Writer
Historically, music has held a great influence throughout the Black community by bringing people together. To highlight that history, the Black Student Union (BSU) is hosting Live Music Fridays throughout Black History Month in the SUB Bowl.
Creating a space where students can feel comfortable and fully themselves, Little Rock, Ark., senior Mya Ellington-Williams, president of the BSU, explained how the event is meant to relax and celebrate students.
“We wanted to find a way that students could just sort of relax after a long school week and just really come together and celebrate using music,” Ellington-Williams said. “We wanted to use music specifically as a way to bridge that gap between our community and really allow students to have a space to gather and get to know one another but doing it in the safest way possible.”
Chartered in 2017, BSU is still a fairly new organization, Ellington-Williams explained. With a mission to guide incoming students as well as provide a comfort zone for its members to participate in cultural, societal and athletic activities on campus, BSU stands to improve relationships between all students.
San Antonio senior Jacarra Eshan, community involvement coordinator for BSU, explained how by unifying and empowering Black students on campus, the group also helps students network and build community together.
“And there are different chapters and organizations on other campuses in the Big 12 conference, so at Baylor, we use it as a way to kind of network and build community amongst the Black students on our campus,” Eshan said.
Since the opportunity to gather was limited in the fall 2020 semester due to COVID-19 regulations, Eshan explained how developing fellowship and comfortability during the mixer was a top priority. As this was going to be one of the first events for BSU to meet new students, Eshan explained how music became a focal point because of its heavy influence on Black culture as well as it being universal to everyone.
Another aspect of this event was how BSU planned to highlight local Black businesses within the Waco and Baylor community.
“One idea that we had … is to be supportive of the Black businesses not only in the Waco community but our own students who are entrepreneurs themselves,” Ellington-Williams said. “We just wanted to shine a light on the Black business in the Waco and Baylor community and the hard work they’re doing and what they’re contributing to our community and the uniqueness of those different products and services.”
In light of recent events that have happened on campus, such as the incident at Moody Memorial Library, Ellington-Williams explained how these events have allowed BSU to push forward and ensure students have a space within their organization. Providing a space for students who may feel threatened or marginalized to come in person and feel heard and cherished are ways BSU has been affected, Ellington-Williams explained.
“Our organization has definitely strived to be a support system to other Black students and just be there to listen and amplify their voices,” Eshan said. “There are some students who aren’t involved in BSU, and so we want to ensure that they have the leverage and support so that way the entire Baylor community can actually hear their voices and understand their cries.”
Unfortunately, due to weather conditions, the event planned for Friday, Feb. 12, has been canceled. While the weather has canceled this Friday’s event, BSU still has many planned events for their organization to finish out Black History Month, Ellington-Williams said. With goals of uniting students and building community, Eshan said BSU is just getting started this semester.