DTH: Can you explain some of your committees?
AE: For example, the political action committee that educates our members on potential threats not only in Chapel Hill but also on a grander scheme. We also incorporate a service component. There is an education committee where we go to local high schools and elementary schools.
DTH: How can you get involved in these committees and BSM?
AE: Basically we have different committees that you can get involved with. We have a congressional general body meeting in the fall which is our inaugural meeting. Here we say who we are and what we do. We also have a committee stand where every committee will present a trifold about what they do.
DTH: What is the main goal of your organization and what ideals are you trying to promote?
AE: One big thing we’re trying to promote is open dialogue and conversation. I think, historically, the Black Student Movement has been known as the black organization or an organization specifically for black students. While black students may feel welcome in this space on campus, they may not feel that elsewhere, and we want to create that space, but also we do not want to be identified for that one objective. Basically this year, our main objective is we want to facilitate collaboration. We want to reach out to differnt communities and really publicize and promote our organization and also show that we are an open family and an open organization that anyone can get involved with. We still value our black culture, because that is why we are a family and it is our main objective, but it is important to collaborate with people that are different than us and see different than us and have that dialogue and conversation to see where each other are coming from.
DTH: How is your organization evolving?
AE: It is increasing in our diversity. We are already a pretty big organization, 150 students, but we are trying to be bigger and different. Increasing our size and diversity has its pros and cons. On one side we still want to be a famiy, an intimate sort of group, but on the other side, we want to expand our family and invite more people into our space. I really think our organization is heading that direction next school year, especially since our main objective is to reach out to other groups on campus.
DTH: Where is your space/home on campus?
AE: Upendo Lounge in SASB North on South Campus. What we are trying to do is use that space as much as possible. That is a space on campus that was designated by the University for us. That is our home on campus but we want to branch out and get to know different parts of campus and get to know different types of people.
DTH: How has the BSM dealt with issues on campus such as Silent Sam?
AE: Have you heard of the Silent Sam Coalition? They’re an organization that is very protest and rally focused and (focused on) getting that dialogue really started. They’ve reached out to us in the past saying, “We are starting this protest, we are starting this rally. Do you want your members to get on board?” The role of the Black Student Movement is to get that information out to our general body and to explain what is happening. The political action committee usually gets involved. This way we have a group of students that are educated on activism and we are a point of contact for if people in our general body want to get involved. Basically, we are a partner with organizations like Silent Sam and Black Congress on campus and we help get the word out and help expand their reach.
DTH: So in regards to Silent Sam, BSM was not the one that initiated the protest?
AE: When it comes to Silent Sam, we have a coallition on campus and we don’t want to seem like we are overstepping that boundary because that is actually the main focus of that organization. We focus on being a partner and being an ally.
DTH: What is your favorite memory that you have had regarding the Black Student Movement?
AE: My favorite memory is actually fairly recent. Something that I feel is really important is introspection of identity. For me, I am from a lower socioeconomic background, I’m gay and I’m black. This organization gives me a safe space. I think my viewpoint may be different from other people from other backgrounds. This organization provides a place for these different identities to communicate. So recently we launched a colorful icon for BSM, like our regular icon but multicolored. I think in general it shows our support for the LGBTQ community. It shows our intersectional viewpoint on different identities. Also how we will welcome our LGBTQ students and welcome and embrace them for who the really are. I think for me it was really personal because I’m gay but I think overall it shows how our organization is progressing.
DTH: Anything else you want to add?
AE: BSM will be having an event, Culture on the Lawn, on August 25 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. in SASB Plaza. We will be collaborating with other cultural groups on campus to embrace and celebrate our different heritages and cultures. We’ll have free food and performances, and it will lead into an after party that night.