The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

Black Student Summit Promotes Black Solidarity and Joy

Mana Abdi, Assistant Director of Operations, OIE
President Jenkins smiles along with other summit participants.

The first annual Black Student Summit was held on Feb. 10 at Colby in collaboration with Bates and Bowdoin. 

The three schools co-created the summit with the intention of offering educational opportunities as well as connection and solidarity between Black students at the predominantly white institutions. 

Around 60 students attended the event from across the schools, and President Garry Jenkins gave the keynote address and fireside chat. He spoke about the necessity of Black Joy and the importance of finding supportive communities in college.

Associate Dean and Director of the Office of Intercultural Education Tonya Bailey-Curry attended the summit and enjoyed hearing Jenkins speak. 

“I thought his remarks were genuine, he was able to give the students an opportunity to meet and converse with ‘Garry,’ not only the President of Bates, but the person who, through his own dynamic smile, displayed what we all felt as Black Joy.”

She added that Black Joy could be seen emanating throughout the entire summit. 

“Black Joy could be witnessed by the roaring laughter coming from the basement during line dancing or the upstairs room students gathered for Black Jeopardy,” Bailey-Curry recalled. “Black Joy could be witnessed by the various forms of fashion and personal expression in the space.”

For Bailey-Curry, Black Joy is, “A recognition that even with the presence of pain, there is space to carve for true joy to coexist.”

The rest of the summit included three workshops on various topics, a Black Solidarity Panel, and an affinity group mixer by the Black Student Union (BSU), Student Organization for Caribbean Awareness (SOCA) and African Alliance (AA). 

The summit focused on Black solidarity. Black solidarity was first observed on Nov. 3, 1969 in New York City. It was strategically placed the day before Election Day with the stated purpose to “protest against the intensifying repression that threatens the very existence of black people in America,” according to Carlos Russell, one of the founders of the day.

It now occurs annually on the first Monday of the month of November.

Bailey-Curry emphasized the importance of Black solidarity at primarily white institutions.

“Black students who attend predominantly white schools like Bates can feel very isolated and alone while dealing with the issues that impact them on campus,” Bailey-Curry said. 

The summit was an opportunity for Black students at the three schools to widen their networks of support, to learn together and engage in valuable discussion.

Bailey-Curry enjoyed the summit personally, and said it was useful to hear from Black staff at the other institutions. 

“As one of few Black staff members at Bates, I too have felt isolated and alone in my experience at times,” Bailey-Curry said. “I was able to engage with Black staff from Bowdoin and Colby which was wonderful.”

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Ella Beiser, Editor-in-Chief
Ella is a Junior from Chicago double majoring in Politics and Hispanic Studies. In her free time, Ella enjoys hosting a WRBC radio show, working in the greenhouse and biking around Lewiston. She is the Editor in Chief of The Student and previously served as an Assistant News Editor and Assistant Features Editor for The Student. She freelances for her local newspaper the South Side Weekly, has been published in the Maine Monitor and Vocalo Radio and in summer 2023 she was a reporting intern for the Lewiston Sun Journal.

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