Leaders of 5C Black student organizations plan social and educational events for Black History Month

 Black student organizations across the 5Cs sought to celebrate and empower Black achievements across the student body. (Esha Champsi • The Student Life)

This February, Black student organizations across the 5Cs sought to celebrate and empower Black achievements across the student body. 

Each of the 5Cs has their own collective for Black students — Pomona College’s Black Student Union, Claremont Mckenna College’s Black Student Association, Scripps College’s Watu Weusi, Pitzer College’s Black Student Union and Black Lives at Mudd (BLAM) — all work to empower Black student voices across the campuses. Many of them address important issues such as student inclusivity and education of the Black experience in the United States.

As president of CMC’s Black Student Association, Aishat Jimoh CM ’23 wants to leave a legacy of inclusivity and understanding of Black students and their backgrounds. 

Jimoh is most excited about the 5C BET Awards on Friday, Feb. 24. Led by all the 5C Black organizations, their BET Awards is an event recognizing Black students who helped create a better community on their campuses. 

“Whether it’s through the artwork they do, their energy on campus or the research they do, we are trying to recognize the hard work that they put in for the community,” Jimoh said. “I’m really excited because it’s the first time we are ever doing something like this. It’s a lot of work but I cannot wait to see the final result.” 

When planning the event, Jimoh thought about how BSA could recognize Black students’ efforts to make the 5Cs a more acceptable place.

“I think as a first-year, I had a really tough time navigating through CMC because it felt very exclusionary and people didn’t recognize me for who I was,” Jimoh said. “I want students to be able to take away from this event that their hard work matters. I see you. I’m Black, you’re Black and you are doing hard work and I believe you should be recognized for it.”

“Awareness is good, but we can do more,” explained Moyo Oyedeji-Olaniyan HM ’25, who serves as co-president of Harvey Mudd College’s BLAM alongside Fred Bolarinwa HM ’25. 

“We always talk about Black trauma and it’s important to talk about our history and where we came from. But it also highlights the goodness in our community too.”

Aside from highlighting and celebrating the achievements of Black students, BLAM really pushes students to take action and stand up alongside the Black community. 

“We need action, like actual change. And one way we can start that is by making sure Black students here can feel safe and seen on the campuses,” Bolarinwa said. “We need people to be allies and show support, like being on the front lines with us.”

BLAM led a protest earlier this month, rallying against police brutality for the death of Tyre Nichols. The club created posters to be held during the march. On Feb. 6, BLAM led 5C students from Walker Beach through CMC and Scripps, stopping at the Shanahan Learning Center. 

“We had amazing support from everyone being there,” Bolarinwa said. “However, there were also a good number of students just standing there and just stopping and staring without joining.”

BLAM also hosted fun activities such as a Sugba, a Black music celebration on Feb. 17 and a Black Flea Market Trip to Los Angeles planned for later this month. 

“We always talk about Black trauma and it’s important to talk about our history and where we came from. But it also highlights the goodness in our community too.” Bolarinwa said. 

Despite the small numbers of Black students at Scripps, Watu Weusi co-presidents Niva Laurent SC ’24 and Blessing Roland-Magaji SC ’24  seek to incorporate Black culture, diversity and fun through their events.

On Thursday, Feb. 23, Watu Weusi and Pitzer’s BSU held a conjoint Open Mic night at the Motley, where students performed poems, songs and improv. Students at Watu have also joined other events happening across the other Black student organizations such as the Flea Market run in Los Angeles and crafting care packages for students at Watu Weusi. 

One of Watu Weusi’s main goals this month is to promote Black visibility within Scripps. Both Laurent and Roland-Magaji hope to increase Black visibility and recognize the Black spaces that are here on the campuses. 

“We want to show people the Black culture that is thriving within it. To recognize that we are here,” Laruent said. 

“We are trying to achieve our goal to be with each other, or be there for each other,” Roland-Magaji said. “I want to have fun, but also let Black students know that they have a space here. It’s hard to know where there is a space for you here at Scripps to relax, but every Friday when I come to Watu meetings, I feel good, happy and in a community with people who care about me.”

Celebrating Black excellence and planning events catering to the diverse Black student population have been one of Pomona BSU’s biggest goals this Black History Month. Presidents Oreoluwa Precious Omomofe PO ‘24 and Jonathan Williams PO ‘24 have outdone themselves this year, hosting numerous informative events, workshops and social parties for the 5C Black community. 

Starting off the month with their annual Blackout event, Pomona’s BSU and other 5C Black student organizations wore all black for a party at Smith’s Campus Center Courtyard on Feb. 3. 

“All of our events embody the effort where we cultivate Black spaces. Where people feel safe, where people feel flourished and feel free to be themselves,” Omomofe said. 

The fluidity of the events enabled different parts of the community to come together. For example, those who attended a Haircut Shop event participated in discussions of Black masculinity and femininity while others who attended the Club D&N party enjoyed a night of fun and good music. 

But what they are most excited for is the upcoming Black Youth Conference happening at Pomona on Feb. 25. Omomofe visited Colony High School, one of the several schools that is attending this event. She reached out to the Black high school students to talk about colorism as well as anti-Blackness in the Black community. 

“[Black History Month is] a very special time of the year to commemorate the culture, to fight the anti-Blackness that’s been built into society and call them out for what they are, combat them,” Williams said.

Pitzer BSU declined TSL’s request for interview.

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