Images by Alec Escandon, @alecescandon.
On Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, the Black Student Union at Concordia University Ann Arbor hosted the first ever Black Out Day on campus.
Students, faculty and staff were invited to stand together and raise awareness of the racial injustices and inequalities in the community and the world. A large group gathered at 10:45 a.m. and another group gathered at 3:45 p.m., on Oct. 7. BSU President, Richard Branch Jr. said that the event was specifically chosen to be held on the 7th day of October because “a young man by the name of Jacob Blake was shot 7 times in the back.” In fact, Branch Jr. explained that the original name for this event was “Feel my pain, help make a change” Day. This event was meant to “put a spotlight on the injustices and inequalities of the world,” Branch Jr. said, “and to talk about the things that are happening in black communities that are not talked about.”
The event consisted of speeches made by members of the Black Student Union along with five minutes of silence. During those five minutes, CUAA senior Emilee Truhn was able to vividly recall the “the love and support from everyone around [her], for [CUAA’s] BSU.” Even as a student, simply attending the event, she knew she was there to support her fellow students who face racism on a daily basis.
From generating event awareness, to following school protocols, to having this event approved, the BSU worked hard to make sure that Black Out Day was a success. CUAA Vice President of Administration Rev. Dr. Ryan Peterson, said after the event that he was “proud of BSU’s leadership and execution of the event.” He was impressed with the work of BSU and how Black Out Day was in “alignment with CUAA’s mission and vision for its students.”
Black Out Day was considered a success by Concordia BSU, CUAA administration, and students. Truhn said that “this event brought attention to something that people on our campus find uncomfortable to talk about, which needs to be done in order to make a change.” Rev. Dr. Peterson said that Black Out Day was a successful launch of “continuous opportunities to lean in, to listen and to learn from one another.”
Black Out Day will not be a singular event. Branch Jr. assured that “BSU will definitely be having another event like [Black Out Day].” The conversation about inequality and racial injustices will continue on CUAA’s campus. Black Out Day was just the beginning of an eye opening experience that will continue to educate people on Concordia’s campus about problems in the black community.