“Helping Me Embrace Who I Am”

Students form Black Student Union in effort to strengthen Black community within MN


Senior Jada Levering took a deep breath before entering room 2639, the location of MN’s new Black Student Union. Attending a school with a predominantly white population could make it easier to feel like an outsider– but here was an opportunity for Levering to connect with others who looked like her. 

“We saw a problem with a lack of community between our Black student population and we wanted to fix that, and wanted to create a space where everybody can be together,” Black Student Union co-president and senior Charlotte Parker said.

Last school year, Parker and senior Dakota Spigner came up with the idea of a club to represent and connect MN’s Black student community– the Black Student Union. After submitting the idea for the union through a student-led organization form, finding a sponsor, and ironing out meeting plans and times, Parker, Spigner and junior Taya Thoms (the third co-president of the union) conducted their first meeting on Sept 7. 

“Our purpose solely focuses on lifting up our Black student population at Millard North. When you think about it, different sports, music activities, the chess club, FCCLA, and HOSA all have a purpose specific to them. Ours just happens to be formed around our skin color,” Parker said.

By the second meeting, the union filled up a whole classroom with 20-30 students.

“Either way, I would’ve been happy if one kid showed up, because that means they noticed. And our job’s not done yet. I really want the whole Black student population at MN to join us, because that would be awesome,” Parker said.

Along with an emphasis on strengthening Black community at MN, the Black Student Union will focus on a variety of other themes and goals they aim to work towards. 

“We also want to boost our morale through that [Black student community], bringing us all together. We want to promote academic achievement [and] getting involved in the community,” Parker said, “Some things we want to do are volunteering or attending conferences, or even making sure we’re thinking about colleges while we’re in high school.”

It is clear there are numerous opportunities for discussion and activities through the Black Student Union. However, since this is the first year of the club, its overall goal for the year is to draw students into the union and get them involved with it.

“[In the] first year we really want to focus on recruitment, getting people to join our cause and stick with it. That’s mainly what we’re going to focus on this year, and just tread the water safely, because we don’t know what’ll happen,” Parker said.

Levering is one student who has already stuck with the cause– she was aware of the idea for the Black Student Union since it was born last year, and has attended the first two of its meetings since it started this year.

“I was very nervous to go to the first meeting, but I liked that I felt so comfortable walking into the room. Everyone was friendly, everyone listened, [and] it was a nice environment,” Levering said.

At the first two meetings, participants discussed what they wanted the club to look like and talked about stereotypes, microaggressions, and how to appreciate Black culture. Being free to share your experiences with others who understand is an important aspect of culturally-focused clubs such as the union.

“Moving here was very hard because I didn’t really see anybody who looked like me. So for kids to have a place to go, where they don’t feel like an outsider, that’s really good,” Levering said. 

To Black Student Union sponsor Kennedy Onyancha, whether he is supervising the Black Student Union or running his other sponsored club, Science Olympiad, he loves seeing students involved in clubs and being presented opportunities through them. 

“[Having culturally-focused clubs is] very important, because it creates this place for the participants to express themselves freely and to encourage one another and to grow together,” Onyancha said.

Although the union is still taking its first steps into MN’s history, it has already become a place of community for the Black student population and has already made an impact on Levering’s life, in particular, showing her how to be herself. 

“[Being in the union] is helping me embrace who I am, not worry about what others think, [and] just know that I’m special in my own way and that’s okay,” Levering said.