Celebrating Black History Month at STA

Black Student Coalition is one of STA’s many affinity groups on campus that provides a safe space for students of color. Members of the group share about it’s importance as well as plans for celebrating Black History Month.


The Black Student Coalition poses with Brianna Walker and Dr. Siabahn May-Washington Sept. 3, 2020. They hold up clenched fists that represent the logo for the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. Photo courtesy of Claire Smith.

by Annie McShane, Copy Editor

Every year, during the month of February, Black History month is celebrated in the United States. Many different kinds of events happen all over the country, and at St. Teresa’s Academy. All of the celebrations that STA holds are run by the Black Student Coalition.

Black Student Coalition is one of STA’s affinity groups, alongside Asian Affinity Group, Hispanic Affinity Group and the Gender Sexuality Alliance. The president of the extracurricular, junior Riyan Jones, sees Black Student Coalition as a safe place on campus. 

“It’s a space on campus for other Black students to come and express their concerns about things that are going on around campus or in the world in general,” Jones said. “We also use it as a tool to educate others.”

Black Student Coalition’s moderator Brianna Walker has been involved with the group since she came to STA in the fall of 2018. She sees the group as a place where students can come together, be themselves and talk about things that are happening within their specific communities. 

Sophomore Chelley Young also sees great importance in having an accessible affinity group on campus. She thinks it is very important to have a group that all people of color are free to join if they are interested. 

“We like to do things around campus, since we go to a predominately white institution, to just make everyone feel safe and included,” Young said. 

Black Student Coalition is involved in many different things outside of campus. Walker shared that one of the extracurricular’s biggest community service project is adopting a family.

“Every year, we adopt a family in the Kansas City community,” Walker said. “Whenever we have a bake sale, we’re raising money for the family that we’re going to give to and 100% of those proceeds go to them.”

One thing that Walker loves about doing things like bake sales is being able to talk with students about what Black Student Coalition is. 

“The bake sale that we had in December was so much fun, getting to explain to all the students ‘Who is Black Student Coalition?’ especially to the freshmen, because they had no idea, so talking with them and saying ‘This is what we are, this is some of the things we do and this is why we’re here.’” Walker said.  

Black Student Coalition also plans many events to celebrate Black History Month. Jones shared that a lot of their planned events are similar to last year. 

“We’re planning our next big event, Black History Month, which includes a church event, a hair show and a plaid table talk,” Jones said. “We also plan a symposium for other area high school students to invite their Black students from their school to come and we host basically a giant seminar.”

Walker said that Black Student Coalition holds these events to celebrate Black History Month in a fun, but also educational and informational way. Jones thinks that it is so important for STA students to come and celebrate Black History Month at these events. 

“We have so many people come and take time out of their busy schedules to help educate the rest of us,” Jones said. “I think that it’s really important that we really turn out for them and show our support for them as well as your fellow students on campus.” 

Jones also believes that it is important to focus not only on past achievements of Black people, but what Black people are doing today. She feels that a great way to celebrate Black History Month is by taking time to find out what Black people are accomplishing in the present.  

“I think that there’s just so much happening now that we kind of turn a blind eye to because we’re too focused on the past,” Jones said.

Along with finding out what Black people are accomplishing today, Jones thinks it’s important to educate yourself on issues within the Black community. Young agrees with this, and thinks that it is a great way to help support the Black community. 

  “It’s really important to be an ally and be educated about different issues within our whole community and just do whatever you can to help,” Young said.

Walker believes that this education starts at STA, and she is constantly finding ways to help teachers involve important people of color in their lesson plans. 

“I always start with the teachers, making sure that they know different people that they can talk about throughout the year,” Walker said. “Some of those small ways are just by having pictures up on the wall, that way it either piques an interest or it gets you looking at people of color, so then maybe a student might ask about ‘Who’s on your wall?’ ‘Who is that?’ ‘What do they do?’ So that right there opens up the door.”

Young has noticed the effect that this support from teachers can have. Although she was nervous to come to STA, she has felt recognized by her teachers and peers. 

“When the teachers acknowledge your intelligence, I think that just really feels good,” Young said. “Depending on what community you live in, some people of color think certain things are unattainable, so when others tell you you can and they support you emotionally and physically, it just feels really good.”

Jones shared that Black Student Coalition has helped her feel accepted at STA and is one of the main things that keeps her here. She feels that it is so important to have a safe space that reminds her that she is not alone on campus. 

“Sometimes when you’re a minority in a space, it’s harder to connect with those who don’t really go through the same things that you do, so BSC kind of opens up a space for us to kind of connect with each other,” Jones said.

Walker thinks that all the affinity groups on campus are necessary to remind people that these students hold space at STA. She also feels that these groups are important because they provide a space for students to talk about different issues from different perspectives. 

“I think it’s so important to have a space that’s unique to those students, because our Black and Brown students, Asian, GSA, they have very unique lived and learned experiences that they’re not always able to share on campus for a wealth of reasons,” Walker said. “Whether they feel like someone can’t relate or maybe they feel uncomfortable sharing their stories, but when they come together in those unique spaces, they’re able to let their hair down and really not care.” 

Young believes that Black Student Coalition is something that every school should have as a safe space for people of color. She thinks that STA can provide a great example for other schools that are establishing similar groups. 

“I know there are other schools that don’t have [Black Student Coalition], but they are starting to form different groups like we are, and I think we’re a really good example,” Young said. “Especially since we’re very inclusive, because we don’t only have it just for one group of people, we have it for a bunch of groups of people.”

Walker, Young and Jones all feel that during their years at STA so far, Black Student Coalition has been a positive space that has helped them form bonds with people that they may not have otherwise known. 

“I always say that the students teach me way more than I could teach myself,” Walker said. “They’re always teaching me something, and just humbling me that every Black experience is not the same.”