BSA Celebrates Student Activism

Banquet reactivates NAACP chapter, honors CNN’s O’Brien

The Harvard Black Students Association kicked off Black History Month Friday with its fourth annual Crimson & Black Banquet in Kirkland House, honoring CNN political correspondent Soledad M. O’Brien ’88.

Entitled “The Good Fight: Champions and Political Change,” the banquet celebrated student public service initiatives and political efforts surrounding the campaign and inauguration of president Barack Obama.

“This time we were history. This time we changed history,” said George J. J. Hayward ’11, the BSA’s political action chair, who is also a Crimson editorial editor, speaking of the Obama presidency.

Group by group, each student organization in attendance recounted its political involvement from the past year—a list of engagements that included phone banks, weekend canvassing trips to New Hampshire, voter registration drives in Dorchester, and fundraising for the Obama campaign.

“Change starts at the bottom and trickles its way up,” Hayward said.

There was also great excitement surrounding the Harvard chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which was reactivated by students from across the University on Wednesday night.

Jarell L. Lee ’10 emphasized the enormous impact that the Harvard NAACP could have on the larger Boston and Cambridge areas.

“We have made progress, but our communities are still plagued by dilapidated schools with teachers who do not care, jobs that do not pay enough and a host of other issues,” Lee said. “There is still work to be done, but we must get up and do it.”

With performances by the Kuumba Brothers and Sisters, the banquet also focused on striking a “healthy balance between art and activism,” according to Matthews K. Mmopi ’11, the business manager of Kuumba.

This year, Kuumba collaborated with the Brattleboro Area Hospice in Vermont, raised over $15 thousand for charity, and established a pen pal program with children in South Africa.

At the conclusion of the student program, the BSA presented The Cecilia Ekperi Scholarship Award, an honor commemorating Cecilia C. Ekperi ’09, a leader of Harvard’s black community who died in 2006.

This year’s recipient was Tineisha A. Lozanne, a junior at New Mission High School in Roxbury. Lozanne, who excels both academically and athletically, has her sights set on Harvard, due to dedicated mentorship from Harvard students.

“My mentor has taught me so much about how to prioritize, stay on track, and prepare for college,” Lozanne said.

—Staff writer Courtney P. Yadoo can be reached at cyadoo@fas.harvard.edu.