Various jewelry, clothing and local food vendors surrounded the mounds at Pitzer College on the weekend of Oct. 7.. Music played all afternoon at the McConnell Apron, and the Claremont community came out to support the first ever Black Flea Market by Pitzer’s Black Student Union (BSU).
Hannah Chimpampwe PZ ’26 was the main organizer of this event. As a Los Angeles native, she grew up surrounded by Black businesses, and after seeing Pitzer’s LatinX Student Union (LSU) and Pasifika Asian Student Union (PASU) having their own outdoor markets, she was inspired to start planning one for BSU.
“Last year at Pitzer, I noticed that LSU and PASU had their own versions of an outdoor market, and then the common conversation was like, BSU, you should do this,” Chimpampwe said. “So then, ever since last semester around March, I was telling people in BSU, oh, I really want to put this together. I really want to do this!”
Chimpampwe started planning the event this past summer. She was able to get help through various Pitzer students, administration and staff.
“I did have help from faculty and staff like Courtlyn Raymond, professor Marilyn Grell Briskcan, Assistant Dean of Student Success Tasmia Moosani, BSU members [and] even members from LSU, especially their president of LSU, Jesus Ceja PZ ’24. He gave me an entire guidebook and that really helped me out with this whole process,” said Chimpampwe.
Bee Joyner PZ ’25, who helped Chimpampwe organize the event, described their role in the process.
“I believe that Hannah started planning over the summer — early in the summer she had the idea and she reached out to me to see if it was feasible and if she could even get as many vendors and really, I encouraged her to keep going with it,” Joyner said.
Meanwhile, Raymond, assistant director of Pitzer’s student engagement, explained how she offered administrative aid to Chimpampwe’s vision.
“My role was really just being able to support Hannah, and in this idea that she had,” Raymond said. “Bouncing ideas off of each other to really see what was going to work best, and just ensuring that everything was in line with the campus rules.”
Since this was BSU’s first flea market, Chimpampwe had to plan this event from scratch.
“Having the Black Flea means [we are] more visible on campus,” Bee Joyner PZ ’25 said. “I feel like a lot of the time we’re just here and not really appreciated. And a lot of the events on campus are not really catered to any POC [people of color]. So I’m really happy that we were able to pull this off and it was as successful as it was.”
“I couldn’t really know how things would turn out until it actually happened,” Chimpampwe said. “Thankfully, everything went perfectly, like almost perfectly fine. People really enjoyed themselves. It was a success for a lot of people.”
From 5C students and faculty to the surrounding Claremont community and even outside schools, the Black Flea Market saw a great turnout. People flocked to every vendor, purchasing a variety of handmade items including jewelry and clothing. On the mounds, students ate food from DD’s Chick and Cat food truck and Reality Eatzz, enjoying performances and music from DJ Moongurl and DJ CB5.
The Black Flea was the first major 5C community event put on at Pitzer this year. Joyner expressed the importance of having events supporting and spotlighting Black culture at the Claremont Colleges.
“Having the Black Flea means [we are] more visible on campus,” Joyner said. “I feel like a lot of the time we’re just here and not really appreciated. And a lot of the events on campus are not really catered to any POC[people of color]. So I’m really happy that we were able to pull this off and it was as successful as it was.”
Chimpampwe echoed these sentiments, highlighting how the Black Flea Market helped to bring communities together.
“It’s important to have events that showcase Black culture at the 5Cs because even though we’re a small number we are still here, and a lot of us do provide important contributions,” Chimpampwe said. “So I feel like having an event like this not only showcases our culture but allows us to connect with the outside community.”
With the success of the Black Flea, BSU organizers cannot wait to see the event return for years to come. Chimpampwe cherishes the hard work that made Black Flea successful, and hopes to see the event institutionalized in the future. Shining a light on Black students and voices, the Black Flea brought together these opportunities for students to not only express their culture but also to be seen across the campuses.
“It makes me very happy to see that an event that started with me eventually becomes a very integral part of not just BSU, but also the school in general,” Chimpampwe said.