LYNN — After a year of hard work, KIPP Academy Lynn Collegiate High School debuted its first Black Student Union last week.
A group of students worked diligently to advocate for, uplift, and showcase the black community at the local charter school. Last February, the same group led events and conversations surrounding Black History Month that were attended by students and faculty. In an effort to expand the group’s impact, the school introduced them as the first Black Student Union.
“This student-led group will meet after school once a week and serve as a space to explore and celebrate black identity as a vehicle for advocacy and education around race and social justice,” said Chinyere Okoro, the school’s learning specialist and advisor to the council.
During the first week of October, the group held after-school information sessions. They spoke to those interested in joining the Black Student Union and those eager to learn what it was about.
Hannah Parker, a member, said she and her fellow group members decided there needed to be more of a prominent black community within the school. She wants her teachers and her peers to understand that nothing gets done when people are divided.
The Black Student Union was formed because the group wanted to enhance black excellence, spread love and positivity, and have the opportunity to create leaders, said Parker.
“Black excellence is usually on a scoreboard or during a game,” she said. “We don’t want black excellence to be just be when you are playing sports. We want black people to be acknowledged for their smarts, their brains, and their arts.”
With a goal of being diverse and open, the group accepted anyone who identified themselves as black to be part of the union, according to fellow member Haja Fatoumata Ba. She said students who are black, Hispanic, and African were invited to join the group. Any of those students who are part of the LGBTQ community were also encouraged to join.
Ba said the group’s main mission is to bring everyone together and continue to develop the leaders who are in the school learning every day. The group wants to facilitate “academic lock-ins” into the student union, where students are locked into learning at the school for a full day doing homework, studying, and practicing for standardized exams.
“We need role models ourselves, but we need to be role models for the rest of the school because we feel like black excellence is something that is missing and we need that,” she said.