On Friday May 27, black student unions from high schools and colleges around the area met in D106 for the second annual black student union social, hosted by Bellevue College’s BSU. Students from BC, UW Bothell, Newport High, Sammamish High and Lindbergh High came to network, socialize, eat, listen to speakers and discuss issues involving race.
“I guess the big picture behind this event is you look at – there’s a BSU here on this campus, there are BSUs at other colleges, there are black student unions at high schools and there are some schools that don’t have that even though they have a black student population and though we got all these different organizations spread across all these different places, we never come together and connect,” said Trey Jordan of the BC BSU. “The focus is [to get] these black organizations together and try to organize them and give them a chance to network and work together.”
Lewis Rudd, co-founder of Ezell’s Chicken spoke at the event and provided food for attendees. Rudd talked about his experiences growing in segregated Texas and how Ezell’s was founded by him and his childhood friend Ezell. Rudd dropped out of the ninth grade twice before joining the military and ended up working at a fried chicken restaurant in Texas with Ezell where the dream was born. Rudd came to Seattle, got a GED, took classes in electronics and in 1984, opened the first Ezell’s chicken across the street from Garfield High School in the Central District.
One theme Rudd spoke on was perseverance and personal responsibility. “There were times when I would blame the system, blame the banks, blame the white man for everything that was going wrong and everything that I couldn’t do or couldn’t accomplish,” said Rudd. “And it wasn’t until I stopped blaming others and accepted the responsibility that I began making real progress. There were plenty opportunities to just quit, give up and continually blame someone but I didn’t. We didn’t. We stayed focused on the dream and focused on believing that we could achieve.”
Aaron Reader, director of Multicultural Services and co-adviser to BSU said “I thought it was phenomenal to be able to talk about the importance of relationships, the importance of really sticking to your goals and I think it’s something that our students need to hear, that his talk does exactly what we’re hoping to do, to learn to build networks, build relationships.”
Eddie Howard from the Urban League talked about a new four-week career bridge class that was being offered for men from 18 to 24 years old that would teach job skills from how to write resumes to how to dress and act at a job interview in addition to other issues facing young men. Attendees will be provided all necessary materials, get a stipend of 200 dollars every two weeks and earn six college credits at South Seattle Community College.
After the speakers and dinner, attendees discussed what it meant to be black or a minority in Seattle and their experiences being black at their respective schools. Attendees shared a variety of experiences of their lives, from growing up in predominantly white areas in the Seattle area to growing up in the Central District and even coming from places out of state and from other countries.
16-year-old Tyler Amucha from Newport shared his thoughts on what it was like to be black, saying “My mom raised a little baby Malcom X so for me, being black is wonderful. We are one of the most adaptable people, being able to be put in different environments and to be able to grow from that, be right here, we’re trouble.” Amucha ended by saying “Being black is awesome, always remember that. For all your children, just tell them that. Remember that being black is wonderful, being black is powerful.”