Black History Month Panel Honors Black Identity, Vitality, and Voices at Soka
A montage of 19 photographs of Black faculty and staff accompanied by the caption, “We Are Here,” opened SUA’s second annual Black History Month panel discussion on February 25. The program continued with a conversation about Black identity, vitality, and voices at SUA.
About 70 members of the Soka community met in the Student Affairs lobby and on Zoom for “Black Identity and Vitality: Centering Joy and Well Being.” Sponsored by the Black Student Union (BSU) and the Office of Student Activities, this year’s panel explored the complexities of Black identity while centering joy and well being, and the contributions of the African diasporas in developing and maintaining vitality.
The panel featured students, faculty, and staff, including Hamza Ibrahim ’23 and Gaelle Pierre-Louis ’24; Nidanie Henderson-Stull, assistant professor of biochemistry; and Jonathan Wray, director of career services. The discussion was moderated by Yinka Aduloju ’24.
Following the recognition of student leaders of the BSU, the African Student Association, and Soka’s Black-identifying students, panelists responded to questions about identity, the driving force to persist, the significance of community, racial battle fatigue, and actualizing freedom and self-determination.
“Since this impactful gathering, I often recall the precious memories shared by the panelists of their hardworking families as well as the exhausting challenges they continue to face,” said Hiroko Tomono, director of the Ikeda Library at SUA.
In addition to the discussion, an interactive Black art exhibit mounted in the Student Affairs lobby featured photographs, artwork, and videos that welcomed participants’ engagement. Spoken word artist Yaa Asantewaa Fairagi closed the program with poetry and affirmations.