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Voices Carry

African American Society continues work despite pandemic

It means a lot to Melissa Adilas, ’21, to serve as president of the African American Society at Bridgewater State University, the school’s first official club to support students of color.

“To be the first club of color on campus is a remarkable thing, not a lot of people know that,” she said.

The African American Society was created nearly 50 years ago, Melissa said, and has served as a gateway, opening the door for other clubs of color to follow.

Open to all students and faculty of any race, its mission is to help educate and celebrate African American culture.

Prior to COVID-19, the group hosted in-person cultural events. They have invited black artists and poets to speak at campus, hosted an Afro-Soul fashion show, and offered dance workshops.

“We hold very important conversations regarding race and other topics, including current events,” Melissa said.

The club also serves as a sounding board when the campus is presented with incidents of racial injustice.

“It’s important for people to come together, despite their ethnicity or background,” she said. “It’s powerful to have those conversations as a community.”

During the pandemic, the African American Society is working with local high schools to identify and work with students who may need assistance applying to college.

“We have been hosting Zoom panels for high school students, kids who may not have resources at home or a parent who can help them apply to college and financial aid,” Melissa said. 

Members of the club also try to work with parents to help them better understand the college application process.

“It’s so important to be there, you never know what some of these students might be going through, the trials and tribulations they are experiencing during this pandemic,” Melissa said.

Normally the group meets every Monday but, like most clubs and organizations at BSU during COVID-19, has moved to gathering remotely.

“Even though we are meeting virtually, it’s important to continue to be that voice, to raise awareness about black life and culture, even if it’s through a computer screen,” Melissa said.

The goal is to be more interactive on social media and to share information about black figures in the community and their connection to racial justice.

Ultimately, the club will look to continue to create opportunities for the BSU community to tackle racial and social justice issues.

“It’s important for us to come together to alleviate our stresses and share concerns with one another and not let them build up,” Melissa said.

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