BADU, Salem’s Black student union, organized several events throughout February in celebration of Black History Month. One of the events was a panel featuring four Black Salem alumni from the classes of 1999, 2000, and 2013.
The alumni shared their experiences on Salem’s campus and on their lives after graduation, covering topics of personal identity, racial diversity, and intersectionality in feminism.
“We’re all women here, right?” asked Roodline Volcy, C’13. “And so we should all feel some type of way, or we should have this collective impact, but I felt something different as a Black woman on this campus.”
The alumni also highlighted the lack of diversity during the time they attended Salem and how the difficulties they experienced in navigating that environment helped bring them closer to their Black peers.
“We learned that we have to love each other. Where else were we gonna get it from?” Volcy continued. “I really credit Salem with me understanding more of who I am as a Black woman and what my role could be in supporting other Black women.”
Other events included “Black Spirit Week” during which students dressed according to the themes explored in the album A Seat at the Table by singer Solange and a fashion show that showcased trends in global Black fashion throughout the years. In addition to these events, the “My Black Is…” board in the Refectory gave students the opportunity to express what being Black meant to them. The celebration concluded on Mar. 3, with a Finale Show in Hanes Auditorium, honoring Black students’ contributions to the Salem community.
BADU president Leniece Linder, C’17, stressed the importance of holding these events and acknowledging Black history. “For a long time I thought that Black people didn’t have a culture. I felt like you had to be from Africa – I had to know where in Africa I was from in order for me to have culture, and it wasn’t until I came to college and started looking at blackness differently to realize that Black people have so much to offer,” Linder said. “Black History Month really does make me reflect on the idea that I do have a culture. It’s my culture, it makes me who I am, and I get to like that.”
Linder made clear that progress is far from complete. “Doing stuff like this and hearing these different perspectives has to continue. Not just through BADU, but through Scholarship Weekend, through tours and all these other things that BADU cannot reach,” she said. “It has to be everybody – people have to know that Black people have been here, go here, and will continue to come here.”