The Black History Month Committee held the closing ceremony for Black History Month on Feb. 28 in the Multipurpose Room, focusing on the legacy of former President Barack Obama and the future of the United States. Entitled “#PostObama,” the event featured a roundtable discussion that included input from students and guest panelist members from the nonprofit organization Street Corner Resources.
The roundtable was moderated by Black History Month Committee chair member Imeh Usoroh, a finance major. Topics discussed between students and panelists ranged from their personal feelings on Obama’s legacy, what the Obama presidency means to the African-American community, as well as President Donald Trump’s administration.
Guest panelist Iesha Sekou, founder of Street Corner Resources, spoke about the Obama presidency’s impact on individual African-Americans. Not everything Obama did for the community was readily visible, she explained, giving the example of seeing more African-Americans excited and engaged about voting during Obama’s election.
“There was a shift that happened, even with the brothers who had kind of lost hope,” said Sekou during the discussion.
Sekou founded Street Corner Resources in 2007 to combat gang and gun violence by empowering young people through education, employment and support systems in their community. Located in Harlem Renaissance High School, the organization focuses mainly on youth in Harlem, though Sekou elaborated in an interview that she loves to be around and speak to “young minds” and young activists in general.
Street Corner Resources was invited to the event by Tamir Brown, the Black History Month committee treasurer and an international marketing major. Brown had existing relationships with all of the guest panelists through his past community outreach work and contacted them for the event in hopes that students would learn how to engage and organize within the students’ own local communities.
The idea for the event stemmed from wanting to engage students. The committee originally wanted to have the Baruch College Republicans – The Right Wings and the Baruch College Democrats debate Obama’s legacy, but after complications, the committee decided on hosting the panelists talking about the same theme. The event was also originally supposed to be a traditional panel, but was adjusted during the event to be a roundtable with students and panelists sitting next to one another.
“A lot of people had a lot of tension with the transition in [presidential] office, so we figured this would be a great time to just give people a chance to open up and discuss and put their feelings out there,” said Usoroh.
Usoroh and Brown detailed the main focus of the Black History Month committee throughout the month, explaining the committee’s goal of raising awareness in the larger Baruch community of the culture, history and struggles surrounding the black community.
“Having just one month to really bring awareness to a whole life—not even just a lifetime, but a millennia of history is not enough. And so our main focus is to get as many people as possible aware of not just social issues, but celebrate the legacy that black people have left and created here not just in America but around the world,” said Usoroh.
“We live black history every day,” agreed Brown. “So for us it’s really about the awareness for other people to come into our consciousness and understand that black history affects everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, Latino, Chinese, Asian, whatever—it affects all of us and we have to come together as a community to celebrate and uplift each other.”
Students were invited to sit and chat with both the panelists and one another after the discussion, enjoying a buffet provided by the committee.