On a frosty Tuesday morning, Stockton’s Unified Black Student Society (U.B.S.S) gave a warm welcome to those who congregated outside of the Arts & Science Center on the Galloway Campus. The Annual Flag raising ceremony, which occurred on Feb. 10, commenced the beginning of Black History Month.
A wave of Pan-African flags danced in the brisk winter air, each color representing a symbolic meaning. Red, for the bloodshed of Africans who died fighting for their liberation, as well as for the shared blood of the African people. Black, for the people of the African nation, and green, which represents the abundance and wealth of Africa, the motherland.
The event began with opening remarks from UBSS Club President, Amiya Roundtree. After spending a majority of her semester online, she was overjoyed to join her peers on campus to celebrate black excellence. Roundtree said, “Our flag raising commemoration is always a heartwarming event for me. It often leaves me speechless and filled with emotion.”
Her favorite moment from the ceremony includes a speech given by Mrs. Shedia Laguer. “Hearing [Laguer’s] references of what black excellence is made me laugh and cry,” stated Roundtree. “Laugh because of all the silly things my kings and queens do, which does indeed reflect our excellence. Cry because we stay so excellent in a world that hates us simply for the color of our skin. We always come out on top and prevail.”
Other significant moments from the ceremony included the singing of the African American National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” performed by Jesus Barnes, accompanied by Dr. Beverly Vaughn and Charles Mcbride. Barnes noted about the ceremony, “to me, UBSS is an affirmation. It is a family, a collection of living breathing evidence that every generation before and every generation to come is connected in their black essence. Not just the struggles but the laughs, vibes, understanding, and energy!”
Barnes added, “I’m excited for all of the black history month events! What stuck with me most from the ceremony was [Tricia Onyango] who spoke about black excellence! It was so moving and accurate.”
There was also a Libation Ceremony, the ritual of liquid offering to honor ancestors, conducted by Distinguished Professor of Social Work and Africana Studies, Dr. Patricia Reid-Merritt. A poem was recited by Elizabeth Omolaja, Vice-President of African Student Organization.
February is filled with events and activities for students and faculty to enjoy. Events consist of Art Exhibitions at the Noyes Art Garage on February 15, which can be observed virtually at noyesmuseum.org. On Feb. 17, Dr. Leon Bass, African American solider and Liberator of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp during Nazi-Occupied Europe, will share his experiences of brutal racism and the military.
Zoom Game Day with the UBSS, Trap Yoga Presented by La Mesa, Virtual History and Paint Night by Stockton’s Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and more are prepared for this month. A full list of events can be found on https://stockton.edu/events/2021/black-history-month-2021.html.
“The event I’m most excited for is our Clothing Swap since I am doing my last year of Stockton from home,” added Roundtree. Despite the pandemic, UBSS encourages members to stay connected by joining them virtually every Thursday at 4:30 p.m. “We meet faithfully to see our members, to hear about their weeks, to hear about their classes, to talk about their struggles. We still try to have events catered to our members,” Roundtree emphasized. “I love any opportunity I can get to come down and see campus life. It’s nice to know that people are still there. I often forget.”