The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Black Solidarity Day Celebrates Heritage and Culture

A series of events celebrating Black pride and culture comprised Black Solidarity Day, held all day on Nov. 3.

Fourteen student organizations including Haraya, the NAACP Youth & College Division, and several fraternities and sororities coordinated the event.

From 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., several events were held on Marillac Terrace to recognize the day. The main event was a march through campus at 6 p.m., with chants of “Black is beautiful!” and “I’m Black and I’m proud!”

The students began the march, dressed in all black, in Marillac Terrace, moved on to the Residence Village and the D’Angelo Center – for a prayer – before ending the march back at Marillac.

Joel Scott, Vice President of services of Haraya, explained the day, its food and events as “feeding your stomach, but really feeding your soul.”
“This day is really the heart and soul of our organization,” he said.

Scott expressed disappointment in the lack of courses available for students about their cultures. “We don’t have multicultural courses that we need to have on campus,” he said. “Why don’t we have courses talking about things going on?”

The march caused quite the surprise for students unaware of the occasion. Members of the march were filled
with pride and symbolism of the proceedings.

“It took you back to the African American roots, basically,” said Xavier Griffin, a new Haraya member. “Uniting African Americans, I like it.”

Besides the march, the most prominent event on campus featured Dr. Carlos E. Russell, the Day’s founder. Russell was
a guest speaker and held a discussion panel with students.

The panel allowed students to express their interests in black culture. He took questions for two hours prior to the march.
Dr. Russell started Black Solidarity Day at Brooklyn College in 1969.

His goal was to show the importance of the African American community to the government and other citizens.

He appointed the Monday before elections as the observation day to emphasize the political element of the movement.

Black Solidarity Day started at St. John’s in 1992 after Steve Lewis, a top baseball player, was denied the opportunity to represent the University, in favor of walk-ons for the Summer Olympics team.

The St. John’s community rallied around Lewis, organizing a peaceful protest against the injustice.

According to Haraya, Black Solidarity Day illustrates the unity among the
ethnic students, societies and local businesses.

Caterers included Genesis #1 West Indian American Restaurant and Southern Girls Soul Food, both black- owned establishments in the St. John’s area. The cuisine was described as “stomach and soul-nurturing” by one participant.

Breakfast was sponsored by the NAACP Youth and College division as well as the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Inc. and Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, Inc. The Latin American Students Organization, the Caribbean Students Association and the Haitian Society hosted the lunch activities. Haraya headed the dinner festivities, which followed the march led by Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Inc., Omega Psi Phi fraternity, Inc. and Dr. Russell’s discussion panel.

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