BSU and SJC lead Mason’s plans for Black History Month

Tucker Ward and Elizabeth Creed

This Monday, February 1, marked the start of Black History Month, and in collaboration with other student groups, the Black Student Union (BSU) has gone all out to bring Black history and education to Mason. 

Mason’s Black Student Union has helped to create a range of activities and educational resources to spread awareness about Black History Month. The overall theme of February will be “Our History Matters.”

“Black history is not just about Black people, but about how Black history has formed our history as Americans,” BSU co-president Pariss Quaintance said. “We want to focus on the history part of Black history.”

BSU Virtual Meeting
Juniors Ben Yimaj, top left, and Pariss Quaintance, bottom right, leading a Black Student Union meeting virtually in October. Like other clubs at Mason, the BSU had to adjust their activities this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo via @gmhs_bsu / Instagram)

In collaboration with the Student-Admin Team and the SCA’s Social Justice Committee (SJC), the BSU has put together a calendar that details events for each day of Black History Month. In prior years, Mason has not done any events of such great magnitude in honor of the month. The BSU set out to change that. 

Co-presidents Pariss Quaintance and Ben Yimaj, both juniors at Mason, said the BSU has been planning panels, trivia, and resources to share this month. Students and staff can expect daily trivia on Schoology and social media about Black history, as well as resources, such as podcasts and educational tools, about African-American history and Black culture.

In addition, they have planned activities for stable groups, such as a presentation and meaningful discussion of the SCA Social Justice Committee’s recent inclusivity survey results.

Mason will be hosting two panels, the first set to take place on February 16 and the second on February 22.

The first panel, “How I Made It: The True Story Behind Myself,” will be a virtual discussion including adult members of the community, and will be moderated by a student. They are planning to ask questions focusing on how community members got to where they are, all in the context of social justice. The panel is intended to not just represent Black people, but a wide variety of diverse viewpoints.

The second is going to be live streamed from the new Mason auditorium and is going to give students an opportunity to talk about where they want the racial justice movement to go next. Moderated by an adult, this panel is an opportunity for teachers, staff, parents, and community members to recognize the opinions and thoughts of Mason’s students.

The BSU co-presidents emphasized how influential Mr. Garland, the BSU’s coordinator, has been on pulling this all together, as well as the support from the school administration. Yimaj said, “I wouldn’t have expected all this, but Mr. Garland gave us a great plan.” 

The BSU hopes that Black History Month will help Mason become more aware of different cultures and people who live in the Falls Church community. They emphasized their focus on education, inclusivity, and awareness, stressing that this month is about all of Black culture, regardless of its origins.

“We don’t want to point fingers and tell anyone [to feel bad about themselves],” Yimaj said. “We just want everyone to learn a little something and take it home with them.” 

While this month is going to include some difficult conversations, Quaintance emphasized that “it’s supposed to be fun!”

Click on this link in order to stay up to date on the events and resources provided for Black History Month.