Black History Month kicks off at FAU with an outdoor event

FAU’s Black Student Union and Student Government Multicultural Programming collaborated to bring students a fun way to kick-off Black History Month this year.


Kiki Etienne asking trivia questions to attendees. Photo by Eston Parker III

Kendall Little, Managing Editor

Students partied with the Black Student Union (BSU) and Student Government Multicultural Programming (SGMP) on the housing lawn to celebrate the start of Black History Month — but took steps to ensure safety during the pandemic.

Initially, FAU called for the event to be canceled but BSU President Kennedy McKinney didn’t want to let the university take away the kick-off to Black History Month.

“For a school that allowed a whole football season to happen, it raises questions about what the school prioritizes as far as safety,” senior multimedia journalism major Corey Rose said about FAU’s initial decision to cancel the event.

After an outcry on social media from BSU members, FAU rescinded its decision.

“We spoke out about [the cancellation] and about an hour later, we found out that FAU changed their minds,” McKinney said.

While the event maintained a lively atmosphere with food, music, and community, event organizer Sharissa Scott made sure that everyone followed proper procedures to stay safe.

Around 45 students joined in on the festivities at a time before a new group filled in.

“It was pretty challenging, but because I’m a little persistent and I wanted this event to happen, we all worked together so we can have this,” she said.

Only two students could sit at a table to eat and all the food served was pre-packaged. There was also a 50-person limit for attendance at a time. 

Two attendees seated at a table after finishing their free food. Photo by Eston Parker III

“I wanted it to feel somewhat normal and give students a chance to come together, social-distanced, so they could feel a connection like they used to,” Scott said.

According to attendees, Scott was successful. Despite the social distancing, students had fun at the event jamming out to popular songs and conversing with their friends. 

“It’s a crazy time right now, so I feel like it’s great for us to get together and enjoy each other this month,” freshman business management major Janeesa Clue said. 

Freshman health science major Kyla Jackson, seated next to Clue, expressed how excited she was to celebrate Black History Month.

“It’s praising my Blackness! I’m Black every day, 25/8. It’s time to celebrate,” she said.

Attendees said that they felt safe at the event as well.

“As long as we’re all six feet apart and wearing our masks it’s pretty safe,” sophomore commercial music composition major Richema Williams said.

The food table at the event gave attendees a choice of barbecue chicken sandwiches or hamburgers, both packaged with pasta salad before the festival. There were also pre-packaged chip bags and cookies in plastic bags to take.

 Ivan Almira, who works with SGMP, wore gloves and a mask when handing out food to attendees to ensure maximum safety.

Beside the food table, DJ Redwood spun upbeat tracks to keep the party going. 

DJ Redwood pictured playing music for the event. Photo by Eston Parker III

Throughout the afternoon, BSU members asked trivia questions about Black history to attendees. If someone got the question correct, they were able to win a t-shirt.

The festival was curated to help Black students appreciate and celebrate their culture as well as allow students to learn about Black history.

“Black History Month is an opportunity to educate communities outside the Black community and uplift our own history because it’s been oppressed for so long,” Rose said.

Scott expressed that Black History Month helps her discover who she is and where she came from.

“It is a chance for me to explore my culture deeper because I feel like I learn something new every day; a month dedicated to this culture gives me a chance to deeper understand my background and where I’m from,” she said.

Left to right: Tierra Broughton, Kiki Etienne, Kennedy McKinney. Photo by Eston Parker III

McKinney mentioned that the festival was only the beginning of a loaded month full of events for students to participate in.

“We have a ton of stuff planned for the rest of the month. We wanted our first event to be fun and social, but after that, we’d get into more of the educational stuff,” she said.

Next week, BSU will hold a general body meeting, open to any student, where the history of Black music will be discussed. There is also a brunch coming up for BSU members.

McKinney revealed that there is a poetry night with all Black poets coming up along with a guest speaker behind the Black Lives Matter movement.

To receive updates about upcoming Black History Month events, you can follow @fau_bsu on Instagram.


Kendall Little is the Managing Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet her @klittlewrites.