Soul and Solidarity: AASA Celebrates Black Solidarity Day

Soul and Solidarity: AASA Celebrates Black Solidarity Day

Jacqueline Serrato

The African American Student Alliance (AASA) held events throughout the day on Monday, November 6, to honor Black Solidarity Day, a nationally recognized commemoration of the political, educational and economic power of Black America, held the first Monday of every November dating back to 1969.

AASA passed out T-shirts bearing red, black and green flags and a raised fist in an attempt to promote the Black presence on Colgate’s campus.

Students of African descent and advocates of Black representation wore these shirts on Monday and withdrew themselves from the Colgate community through silence but also through abstention from class participation and from the purchase of merchandise.

“Students took more radical approaches to advocating the day’s messages through their absence from class to wearing black tape across their mouth,” External Secretary for AASA junior Courtney B. Richardson said.

“Traditionally, AASA hosts events on this day to help people realize our importance in society,” co-Vice President of the AASA junior Thomas Dilworth said. “We host events where members and others speak out about their existence here at Colgate.”

Before Monday’s speak-out at noon on the chapel steps, AASA rang the chapel’s bells at noon 13 times in recognition of Colgate’s founding 13 prayers.

“[It also] symbolized our break of silence for the day,” co-Vice President of AASA sophomore Jamil Jude said.

Close to fifty students and staff, the majority dressed in black, gathered in the academic quad soon thereafter. Jude opened the small ceremony with a welcome speech and a brief inspiration message. The floor was then open for students to deliver their own poems and those of others, as well as personal accounts relating to identity and Black empowerment.

At 7 p.m. that night, a crowd of supporters holding lit candles marched from the Harlem Renaissance Center to the African, Latin, Asian and Native American (ALANA) Cultural Center. A banner that read, “1969-2006, The Day of Absence Lives 37 Years Strong,” led the marchers, who sang uplifting spirituals such as the Negro National Anthem.

“Overall, today seemed to shine a little brighter than in previous years,” Richardson said.

Outside of ALANA, the students formed a circle and bowed their heads in prayer. Once inside, they socialized and enjoyed homemade “soul food.” As people finished their dinners, they watched a slideshow put together by Richardson highlighting the Civil Rights Movement, the work of Martin Luther King Jr. and overall solidarity.

“It just lets you know how committed people are to a certain cause. It’s a beautiful thing,” Dilworth said.

Educational Officer sophomore Gabriella Barrow and co-Treasurer sophomore Malik Samuel Wright mediated a dialogue among the present Black Solidarity Day advocates.

The two-hour discussion was titled “Self-Love” and targeted the color complex. Students challenged each other’s ideas and worked on solutions for elevating themselves and their communities. The discussion went on in personal conversations after it officially concluded.

“If we don’t do our jobs, and let our voice be heard every day on campus, a day of absence will have no meaning! We have to be vocal and be important parts of society every day so that our lack of presence will be felt,” Jude said.

“This event was a great success for AASA,” President of AASA junior Marcelina James said. “We were able to unite in solidarity on this campus. My desire is that in the years to come, we will be able to organize this event to have an even stronger statement on our campus. My words of wisdom are: Be proud of who you are, your cultural identity, and your strength as a person. Don’t conform to meet someone else’s standards. Be proud of who you are and recognize the struggles of your people.”