By FRANK MENZ
Marking Black Solidarity Day, more than 50 Cornellians gathered in the Ivy Room Friday to reflect on the state, goals and future of the black community in America.
Black Solidarity Day originated in 1969 with the purpose of bringing the black community together to foster discussion of the challenges faced by black men and women.
Members of the community do not attend work or school and try to avoid spending money on the day as a symbolic gesture of the significance of black men and women in the country’s economy.
As part of the day’s celebrations, Black Students United encouraged community members to take part in informal discussions — rather than a formal speech-driven event — to create a more comfortable and open setting for students to express their opinions, said Nia Hall ’14, co-president of Black Students United. “The structure of Cornell has to have everything planned –– lecture, class discussion.
It doesn’t give students the opportunity to speak their opinions fully. We wanted to give our community a chance to speak their mind in an open setting without all the formalities,” Hall said.
Attendees discussed not only problems facing the black community but also what black men and women can do to move forward.
“It is not enough to show up only when things go wrong. … 90 percent of our students graduate, but are the people happy?” said Student Assembly President Ulysses Smith ’14, who attended the event.
Students also reflected on the impact of their race on the community online, taking to Twitter with the hashtag #BBCU to share what they think “Being Black at Cornell University” means.
“The solidarity with the #BB___ movement across the country is incredible! The Black experience is beautiful,” Black Students United tweeted Friday.
The hashtag movement leading up to Black Solidarity Day was first launched by the University of Michigan’s chapter of Black Students United, which asked students to share their “unique experiences of being black at Michigan,” according to The Michigan Daily.