Feb 19, 2021 | NEWS | By Mika Alexander | Illustration by Maren Greene

In celebration of Black History Month, Colorado College’s Black Student Union (BSU), in collaboration with The Butler Center (TBC), is partnering with the Fine Arts Center (FAC) to promote Black art and history.

Conversations regarding the partnership arose in January as BSU leaders planned their calendar of events and activities for Black History Month. After connecting with Idris Goodwin, the director of the FAC, and Jeremiah Houck, the assistant director of the Bemis School of Art, the student leaders developed an idea to showcase Black art, honor Black historical figures and hold a vigil in honor of Black lives lost to police brutality.

Aside from the art installations and vigil, other events planned include in-person and virtual art classes, grab-and-go Black diaspora meals with Bon Appétit, guest speakers and workshops relating to Black love, Black social movements, and self-care.

“Some goals of BSU’s partnership with TBC and the FAC are to continue to increase Black representation/visibility in all facets at CC and increase the amount of Black art displayed at the FAC,” BSU leaders Dylan Hall ’22 and Lonnell Schuler ’22 said.

The collaboration between the Black Student Union, The Butler Center, and the Fine Arts Center has proven meaningful to many campus community members, especially in light of the push for CC to become an anti-racist institution.

“Because of CC’s anti-racist initiative and its promotion of itself as an anti-racist institution, it is imperative that its Black students, faculty and staff are listened to, respected, and represented in everything that CC does,” Hall and Schuler said. “Through BSU’s partnership with TBC and the FAC, and future BSU initiatives, we hope to be able to take the steps towards a truly antiracist and equitable future at CC.”

Hall and Schuler also explained the importance of the vigil installation; after hearing from Black classmates about their “depression, fatigue, and sense of disconnection,” the BSU felt it was necessary to honor the victims of police brutality in the wake of the murders of multiple Black people this past summer.

“We came up with our concept, and along with the help of two friends and our historian [Ella Sanders ’24], created and installed the piece. Because this was both of our first art installations, we were extremely proud of ourselves. I am also very proud of the way we pushed through what turned out to be an extremely emotional creation process,” Hall said.

Although the art and vigil installations proved emotional for many members of the BSU, Hall and Schuler asserted their accomplishment in the project.

“While researching and printing photos of all the people who have been lost to state-sanctioned violence, a thought that kept recurring to us was ‘That could easily be me,’” they said. “Was this feeling overwhelming at times? Yes. Was the work still necessary and fulfilling? Absolutely. Are we proud of how the installation turned out? You bet!”

This partnership represents the importance of programming that meets the needs of the students involved. TBC Director Rosalie Rodriguez wrote, “We can always come up with ideas for programs, but if no one comes it can feel very defeating. By putting student ideas in the center and working together, we can ensure we are making meaningful programming that students really want.”

In order to support the Black Student Union’s celebration of Black History Month, campus community members are welcome to sign up for remaining art classes, workshops, and lectures. In addition, Hall and Schuler recommend “respecting, uplifting, and cherishing Black people and voices, bringing awareness to issues that the Black community faces, and supporting BSU in events open to all of CC.”

To find information about classes, workshops, lectures, and other events, follow The Butler Center and the Black Student Union on Instagram and Facebook.

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