History in the Making

Concordia Clubs Team Up for Black History Month

Photo Riley Sparks.

Left off this year’s Concordia Student Union calendar and in the dark about any planning, Saradjen Bartley thought her student union didn’t care about Black History Month.

The president of the Concordia chapter of the African and Caribbean Students’ Network, Bartley decided to find out what was going on.

“Last year, we were contacted by the CSU around October and by mid-November we met with them. This year, I had to go to them,” said Bartley.

Ultimately, CSU VP Finance Jordan Lindsay stepped in to help with the project. Lindsay said the reason for the delay was that “they had expectations of us, and we were unaware of the expectations.”

“I think they expected us to have started working on this last semester, and we hadn’t. There’s no manual for this particular kind of work, and I think that the priorities of the group were kind of forgotten about.”

Since they cleared up the miscommunication, Bartley said Lindsay’s contributions have been valuable.

“There’s nothing to complain about. Jordan has been helping a lot.”

That hiccup in communication is ironic, given the theme of the activities in this year’s edition are “Together We Stand.”

As a joint project of eight student associations, each was responsible for organizing their own events, but cooperation was encouraged.

“This year we tried to do something special,” said Bartley. “In prior years, they would usually collaborate in some events, but this year we tried to have everything go with associations collaborating with each other. So far it’s been great.”

Among the events planned are speakers, film screenings, a fashion show, a museum display, workshops and panel discussions.

Concordia Caribbean Students’ Union VP Finance Yuri Wilkie said he believes the annual month-long celebration of black culture is particularly necessary at the university given Concordia’s history, citing the 1968 Computer Riot.

The riot took place in the Hall Building’s Computer Centre on the ninth floor to protest a professor that students claimed was racist. The event resulted in the arrest of 97 students, many of whom were black and goes down in Canadian history as the largest student occupation.

“We tried to promote black history’s presence in Canada, as well as our contributions within our cultures, within Canada and within Concordia University,” said Wilkie.

“We tried to tie it into our university’s roots and the founding of student organizations here. For example, during the Computer Riot you had clubs like the CCSU being formed to represent minority groups like Caribbean students, so it’s about all of us coming together to represent a certain demographic within the school.”

The CSU, the ACSN, the CCSU were all part of the planning for Black History Month, as well as the African Students Association of Concordia, the Engineering and Computer Science Association, the Concordia chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, the Arts and Science Federation of Associations and
Ralliement étudiant Haiti-Canada.

For a full itinerary of Black History Month activities, go to life.csu.qc.ca and check out their “Black History Month” page.