BSU’s Presence at LFA

Djasahn English and Nick Bisulca

Throughout February, a month dedicated to celebrating Black history, the Black Student Union (BSU) has made great efforts to make their presence felt. Across campus, a plethora of events introduced Lake Forest Academy’s student body to different cultures within the African diaspora.

The effort to share and educate started right out of the gate. During the first week of February, the Student Center was decorated with placards providing information on certain aspects of Black history. The placard’s information ranged from the origins of how the month became officially recognized, to celebrating Black figures and including the influence they’ve had on pop culture; the orange rectangles scattered around lunch tables provided important insight for those who may not have otherwise ventured out of their way to learn about this history. While not an original idea, having been adopted from efforts of the Muslim Student Union, it proved to be an effective way to assert the presence of the club and disseminate important information. 

Another approach the BSU took to honor Black history was to present movies on Saturdays in the Field Commons. On Saturday, February 5th, the legendary ‘Joint’ Do the Right Thing was shown, a Spike Lee “Joint” nominated for a Golden Globe best motion picture, set in a pizzeria in a predominantly Black neighborhood. The next Saturday, the critically-acclaimed movie Get Out was shown. This movie, the debut film of another accomplished Black director Jordan Peele, follows a young Black man as he uncovers the terrifying secrets of his White fiance’s family. Each Saturday a movie was presented, intending to harbor a community and give the Black student body and others a place to congregate, share, join in the beauty, and feel confident in their Black identity. 

  During the All School Meeting on the 10th, half of LFA was welcomed with the presence of Idy Ciss and Company Kolaam Dance, an African dance and drum group from Senegal that shared its lively music. This group made up of 7 members, three drummers, three dancers, and one leader, educated the audience on phrases sung during traditional dances, as well as the names of these drums and dances. Using call-and-response methods, they incorporated the audience into their show, immersing members both in the Cressy theater and those who couldn’t attend in-person and watched remotely. The closing act of their performance drew members from the crowd to partake in their dancing. In that beautiful moment that shared their passion for their dances and a cultural appreciation, many LFA members took to the stage to participate in the exchange. The next All School Meeting on the 22nd, the other half of LFA that watched the African Dance and drum group over zoom, was greeted by a griot who shared stories while playing his Jimbe. 

BSU hosts drummer and storyteller, Michael Taylor, to teach the students about drumming and the history behind drums and drumming. (Photo by Djasahn English)
BSU hosts Idy Ciss and Company Kolaam Dance to perform all school meeting on February 10th, 2022 (Photo by Djasahn English )

To continue the spirit of educating and sharing cultures, the BSU catered foods from across the African diaspora. Dishes such as jerk chicken were presented in the cafeteria for students, teachers, and faculty members to enjoy. Music from a long list of Black artists were played before and after morning meetings, adding to the immersion and appreciation of Black cultures. 

These events all maintained a broad scope, but a powerful uniting goal: educating, enlightening, broadening perspectives, and appreciating different cultures. Co-Head of Committee of the BSU, Braeden Murray ‘23, said, “The Goal of the BSU heading into this month was to give Black students on campus a strong voice in what they want to see, do, celebrate, and the conversations they want to see on campus.” 

This year a strong emphasis was placed on making the members of the club feel like they have a community that supports them and gives them a voice. Murray ‘23 said, “I think BSU does this really well by trying to stay in close contact with all of the Black students on campus since the club would not be the club without them.” 

The unavoidable presence of the BSU this month was purposeful, and it was overall well received. Terryn WIlson ‘25, BSU Secretary stated that, “I feel the increased presence of the BSU has been received by allowing us more opportunity to be who we are. Especially with this BHM being student-led, we’ve had the freedom & creative liberty to celebrate our culture, which has given us the chance to use our voices and represent Black students in a light that usually doesn’t shine so bright.”

The leaders of the BSU, as well as the advisors, have a clear passion for the Black community at LFA and are committed to creating an inspiring agenda. When looking to the future, there are many bright ideas and hopes that students see the BSU developing towards, or ways they want to see the BSU evolve. 

Wilson ‘25 said that, “I hope to see the BSU being widely known, and that Black voices in the community of LFA will be valued and heard.” 

Murray, ‘23 stated that, “The direction I see the BSU after this month is [having] more allies and more awareness on the issues that Black people face within the world. By fostering a more culturally minded environment, we should feel more accomplished since it definitely does make better leaders for tomorrow.” 

With such a strong leading group, a passion for the Black community, and an active student body, the BSU put its foot into this year’s Black History Month, and set the groundwork for years to come.