The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Student organizations and the BCC host series of events for Black History Month

The BCC offered a wide range of programs this February including lectures from new authors; BSA, ASU and EESA collaborative events; and the Black History Immersion Excursion trip to Atlanta.
Rosevelt Noble
Students invited to Vanderbilt’s annual Black History Immersion Excursion visit various Civil Rights Movement landmarks in Atlanta. (Photo courtesy of Rosevelt Noble)

In celebration of Black History Month, Vanderbilt student organizations and the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center organized a series of events celebrating Black history, culture and community. BHM programming included lectures, career panels and community bonding socials.

Rosevelt Noble, interim director of the BCC and associate dean of students for equity, inclusion and belonging, has overseen Vanderbilt’s BHM organizing process for the past seven years and said that event planning usually begins in late October of the previous year. 

Although he stepped back from planning this year, Noble described the way the BCC team reaches out to other offices on campus to find co-sponsors for joint events, while also helping to plan student organization lead community-based programming. Some events are sponsored by the BCC’s new program “For Us, By Us” where students can apply for $500 grants to host their own events.

“If students feel like there’s a void on campus, [FUBU] gives them the opportunity to put on a program themselves,” Noble said. 

FUBU events this year included a “Kinky Curly Chemistry” workshop about the science of Black hair, the Black Vandy Thriftshop, Stay REDy CPR training and a discussion titled “Navigating Black Vandy’s Narrative.”


Vanderbilt and the BCC hosted various lectures, kicking off with the 16th annual Murray Lecture featuring Clark Atlanta University Professor Daniel Black. On Feb. 8, Vanderbilt also welcomed Gregg Hecimovich (M.A. ‘93, Ph.D. ‘97) to discuss his new biography “The Life and Times of Hannah Crafts: The True Story of The Bondwoman’s Narrative.” 

Hecimovich detailed his extensive investigative process to find the author of the first novel written by an African American woman, “The Bondwoman’s Narrative.” He said his engagement with small communities in North Carolina was often not seen as “scholarly.”

Senior Morgan Johnson, who attended Hecimovich’s lecture, described her interest in his journey.

“It was a very interesting talk because it was definitely fascinating to hear the process of finding out if this work was [that of Hannah Crafts] and the community and people who helped him,” Johnson said. 

On Feb. 16, Vanderbilt also welcomed Jennifer Jones and Cecilia Marquez, professors at the University of Illinois Chicago and Duke University, respectively, to host a discussion on “Race, Migration and the Making of the New South.” 

This talk explored how migration, racial formation and interracial solidarities — specifically between Black and Latinx people — have reshaped the racial landscape and politics of the United States South. The event was co-sponsored by The Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latinx Studies and the Department of Sociology.

Social events

Additional social activities included the Vanderbilt Pop Up Shop called “Buy Black Vandy” on Feb. 22. The BCC hosted Black alumni, staff and students who are small business owners to sell or market their products and services, including facial and skin care, apparel, baked goods and consulting advice.

“I always love the ‘Buy Black Vandy’ event because it gives an opportunity to learn a little more about the entrepreneurial spirit that some of our students have,” Noble said.

The month’s student-run social events included ASU’s romance speed-dating night on Feb. 13; BSA’s dance workshop on Feb. 15; and ASU and EESA’s bracelet-making circle on Feb. 20. The month ended with a BSA and EESA “canvas and chill” joint event on Feb. 27, which BSA President Dawn Efionayi, a senior, praised as a collective community celebration.

“This discussion on the intersection of art between our two cultures that culminated with shared paint canvases was the perfect end to the month,” Efionayi said. “Overall, I am incredibly proud of how all of these events went and want to especially shout out my amazing executive board for planning and executing all of these wonderful events.”  

ASU President Chidimma Ndubuisi Oluavu, a senior, called the connection between various student groups on campus during BHM a “beautiful thing to see” and a means of reinforcing community ties. She also expressed a desire to see greater institutional support and involvement in the month’s celebrations. 

“While it is always a pleasure to share these events with the larger Vanderbilt community, I believe we could do even more,” Oluavu said. “Vanderbilt as an institution really only acknowledges the month through Campus Dining, and I think there’s room for increased emphasis and administrative partnerships that would allow us to really show up and show out.”

Service and community

The National Black Law Students Association organized two events for BHM. On Feb. 6, they held “Beyond the Brief: Insights from Black Legal Minds,” inviting a panel of Black attorneys from Nashville to share their experiences in the legal field. 

On Feb. 20, NBLSA organized “Day on the Hill” in partnership with the Napier-Looby Bar Association, Nashville’s Black bar association, offering NBLSA members the opportunity to participate in committee sessions, meet various members of the Tennessee Congress and observe the legislative process in action.

Junior Keyonte’ Doughty, NBLSA president, said that by hosting these events, NBLSA aims to pay tribute to the “pioneers of the past” while providing resources for Vanderbilt students today. 

“BHM is celebrated to acknowledge and honor the remarkable achievements of Black Americans that are often overlooked,” Doughty said. “These initiatives were designed to broaden our members’ horizons, offering them a glimpse into potential career paths in the legal field.”

BHM also included activism-based programming, including a Feb. 28 textbanking event with Black Voters Matter. Jointly hosted by Vanderbilt Student Government, Vandy Votes and Vanderbilt’s NAACP chapter, the event brought students together to send texts to the local Nashville community to advocate against a bill that would vacate Tennessee State University’s board of trustees and allow the state government to reappoint these positions. 

Ochuwa Garuba, a sophomore and the vice president of Vandy Votes, said she was excited to celebrate BHM by uplifting the diverse lived experiences of the Black community as well as promoting civic activism and social justice on and off campus.

“It took a lot of time and coordination to put this event together but I was thrilled to make a tangible difference in the broader Nashville community, especially since the 2024 election is right around the corner,” Garuba said in a message to The Hustler. “In fact, we were able to send out over 35,000 texts! I’m excited to continue this energy and momentum from BHM throughout the rest of the year.”

Every February since 2019, the BCC sponsors a Black History Immersion Excursion. This year, on the weekend of Feb. 9-11, the BCC invited about 44 students to go to Atlanta to engage with the city’s Civil Rights Movement history. They visited landmarks honoring various Civil Rights Movement leaders, including the King Center in Atlanta. Noble praised this year’s trip and the month’s programming as a whole. 

“As executing the events went smoothly, the BCC staff and team, as well as student organizations, did a phenomenal job overall this month,” Noble said.

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About the Contributors
Shyla Lensing
Shyla Lensing, Staff Writer
Shyla Lensing (‘27) is from Corte Madera, Calif., and is double majoring in human and organizational development and public policy studies in Peabody College. Outside of The Hustler, you can find her running, solving NYT mini crosswords or eating an obscene amount of popcorn. She can be reached at [email protected].
Arman Amin
Arman Amin, Staff Writer
Arman Amin (‘27) is a student in the College of Arts and Science planning to major in political science. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find him listening to music, going for a run or spending time with friends. You can reach him at [email protected].
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