Organization Spotlight: Black Student Union

NMU BSU stock photo

Northern Michigan University is celebrating Black History Month in February. The NMU Black Student Union (BSU) plays a prominent role in coordinating related events. The organization strives to create an inclusive and understanding space for the education of Black experience, culture and history on campus.

Last year, the BSU brought Bobby Seale, the co-founder and national chairman of the original 1966 Black Panther Party, to speak at NMU.

“It was an amazing event and very influential, and one of our biggest events to this day,” said MarLanaysia Rosser, BSU president.

To celebrate Black History Month this year, the BSU decided to address the history of hip-hop and its influence on Black culture on Feb. 21, partner with Campus Cinema to show The Color Purple on Feb. 23 and host an "Embrace Your Crown: Natural Hair Workshop" on Feb. 22.

“We wanted to honor different hairstyles and teach the cultural significance behind some of them, along with learning how to take care of our hair,” said Rosser.

The theme of the nationwide celebration of Black History Month is “African Americans and the Arts.” It celebrates the influence African Americans have had in the fields of "visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary and other forms of cultural expression."

“I am a part of the theater and dance department here on campus and I've been involved in shows since my sophomore year,” said NMU student Shiloh St. Claire, BSU communications chair. “I did ‘Clybourne Park' last semester and, just recently, we finished the Co/Lab Dance Company performance. It's been a really fun experience, and a way to step out and show like a different side of who you are.”

“I come from a primarily white community, so being able to join a smaller community of mainly Black students and build community through BSU has had a good impact on me," said Kyle Guinn, BSU member. "The message we're trying to get across is that it doesn't matter who you are or who you identify as, we are one community and we love to involved everyone. We enjoy collaborating with Latin Student Union, Asian Student Union and the Native American Student Union as well.”

BSU meetings are a weekly get-together rather than formal sessions. Students participate in do bonding activities that begin with the letter of the alphabet and currently are on letter J.

“We do study and game nights, in hopes to get people outside rather than just doing work. Community is something we really emphasize because it can get lonely being away from home,” said Rosser.

Throughout the year the BSU takes part in volunteer projects and open forum discussions/panels at Northern and elsewhere. The group also helps with events relating to MLK Jr. Day and Black History Month. Outside of meetings, the BSU gets together for cookouts, road trips, basketball games, and whatever else the group is interested in doing. Meetings are open to the public; anyone is allowed to stop by.

Prepared By

Bridgette Bowser
Student Writer