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November-December 2008

Black Student Union

Alumni Newsletter


Hello everyone. As the fall semester nears its end, we are all trying to make the best of the snowy New England winter. The elections are on everyone’s minds and more students than ever are feeling hopeful at the results. The college campus erupted in euphoria on that historic Tuesday night and for that moment in time Amherst College became the community that many of us had hoped it would be. All barriers fell down in the face of the happy harmony that was the pervasive feeling that night. Harlem Renaissance has also come and gone, and was as always a resounding success. We are hoping that next year’s event will be even better and we invite you to mark your calendars. Your presence would undoubtedly make this event that much better. As always, please feel free to send us any comments, questions, and/or feedback.

We hope your Thanksgiving was happy, and that your Christmas will be equally merry.

Sincerely, BSU E-Board

Meet the 2008-09 Black Students Union Executive Board:

Chair: Meredith Wilson ’10

Hello! I am the Senior Co-Chair of the Black Students' Union for the fall '08 semester. I am a junior from Seattle, WA. Since coming to Amherst College, I have developed a strong interest in Race and Ethnic Studies, which is why I became a Sociology major. When I first started going to BSU meetings toward the middle of my Freshman year, it was mainly as a way to make new friends. The upperclassmen were extremely welcoming and after Harlem Renaissance I really wanted to be more involved. For the past 2 1/2 years, BSU has played one of the most significant roles in my life at college. Not only have I had fun (and stress!) helping to plan some of the largest student-run social events on campus, but BSU has also pushed me towards social activism on and off campus. My goal for BSU this year is more student participation as well a stronger general member base. As an individual, I only have so many ideas about what we as an organization should be doing, and as we were reminded during a recent meeting, an organization is only as good as its members. We need active members who will go on to be in next year's leadership positions. BSU has been and will hopefully continue to be an important voice in the Amherst College community.

 Junior Chair and Communications: Kelly Tellis-Warren ’10

I am a Black Studies major and I'm also Pre-med. I'm a freshman RC and worked to help get Obama elected. I joined the BSU because I think it’s critically important to have a group on campus that caters to the specific needs and concerns of black students on campus. I think that the BSU provides a safe space for students on campus while also informing the greater campus population about different aspects of black culture and black student life around campus. I think that the Black Student Union provides a great service to the Amherst community, and for that I value its presence on campus.

Social Chair: Kush Maingi ’11

Hello, I am a sophomore and I am currently doing the sciences. I am from the country of Kenya and I joined the BSU in order to become a member of a community of like-minded people interested in promoting the interests of the black community.

Treasurer and BMG (Black Men’s Group) Senior Chair: MJ (Merle James) Smith III ’09

Major: Political Science. Reason for joining BSU: One day I just thought to myself that I could be doing so much more to help the well-being and development of African-American students on this campus. So I decided it was time for me to take an active role and become more involved in diversity initiatives across campus. BSU gave me the best opportunity and the resources to actually complete this goal and I have since been able to participate in several projects that are very dear to me and were made possible through my involvement in BSU. 

 BMG Junior Chair: Kyle Ramsey ’11

I joined the BSU because I saw the need to promote the welfare not only of black students but of the entire minority community on campus. I am of the belief that only through concentrated and organized effort can we come to a point where diversity and equality are not the distant dream, but the present reality. I see BSU and organizations like it as but one of the means to bring about this change.

 Alumni Liaison: Shenae Bell ’11

Hi. I am a sophomore who hails from the island of Jamaica. I am an English major and I am currently considering majoring in Black Studies as well. I joined BSU because I needed a community of people with whom I could identify and who could provide the kind of support with which I am familiar. It has also proven to be a great outlet for political activity and community service. I believe BSU has proven itself to be an invaluable part of my college experience.

BWG (Black Women’s Group) Senior Chair: Rebecca Emiru ’11

Hi. My major is undeclared but I am seriously considering Political Science and French. I think the BSU is an important organization on campus that affects the experience of a lot of Amherst College student, and I wanted to be a part of it.

 BWG Junior Chair: Asia Millette ’11

I am currently a sophomore Sociology and Black Studies double major. I joined BSU because coming from a predominantly black neighborhood in New York, I needed a place where I could feel at home.  BSU has been a support system and has made me feel comfortable here at Amherst.  The friendships I have made through BSU will last me the rest of my life.


Kwanzaa is scheduled for the 7th of December and we look forward to another year of good food and good company as we partake in this celebration.

Troy Anthony Davis Case

Oral Arguments Set for December 9: Troy Anthony Davis was convicted of murder solely on the basis of witness testimony, and seven of the nine non-police witnesses have since recanted or changed their testimony, several citing police coercion. Others have signed affidavits implicating one of the remaining two witnesses as the actual killer. But Davis is still scheduled to be executed by the state of Georgia. Oral arguments have been set for December 9 in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Take Action against injustice.

Past Events

*Election 2008: The Amherst College Democrats helped to coordinate a Student's For Change Rally on  September 20th at Boston University. Featured speakers included Governor Deval Patrick, Congressman Michael Capuano, and former Daily Show Correspondent Rob Corddry.

*Monsters, Messiahs, or Something Else? Mixed Race in Sci-Fi Movies: Many science fiction movies are telling stories about Mixed-Race but what are they really saying? In October Eric Hamako, a fifth year doctoral student in the Social Justice Education Program of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, gave a lecture on popular representation of multi-racial identities in science fiction films and what multiraciality means for race-relations in the United States. This event was sponsored by AAS and organized by ASA.
* Seoul Food Night: Seoul Food Night took place on November 5th. and Black culture and Asian collided for a night of culinary and social bliss. Before we partook of the food, however, our speaker Professor Sujani K. Reddy, Five College assistant professor of Asian Pacific American Studies, gave a wonderful lecture on the similarities and divisive forces acting on Black culture and Asian culture alike. It was a night that was indeed filled with "seoul."

*Harlem Renaissance 2008:Harlem Renaissance took place on the 15th of November and was resounding success. The participants included a host of very talented freshman, but as usual our upperclassmen played their part. Faculty also attended, including Dean Hart. We hope that next year Alumni will also be attendance so that we can make this beautiful event celebrating Black Culture even better.


Keeping You In the Know:

*Black Alumni Weekend 2010:  Plans for the next Black Alumni Weekend are not yet in progress.  But if there is anything you would like to see at the next Black Alumni Weekend, please consider being a part of the planning process. For more information,please contact Natashia Hines ’07 at orAnthony Jack ’07 at

*The Multicultural Resource Center Opens:

The Multicultural Resource Center is the hub for all groups at Amherst College that promote understanding of different cultural aspects present in our community.  It acts as a communication and activities hub, located in the Campus Center.

At the resource center you will find:

  •    Information about all Amherst College cultural groups
  •   A centralized calendar of cultural events at Amherst
  •    A mentoring program “helping students transition smoothly to Amherst”
  •     Leadership information, including sample budgets and descriptions of events of different, gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, religious affinity groups.
  •   Information about local community service opportunities in serving local ethnic communities.
  • Cultural internship, job, and conference opportunities
  • Information about videos, books, websites, and databases located in Frost Library relevant to various diversity issues.
  • Information about professional speakers who speak about various diversity issues

Click here for more information.

 Recent BSU Discussion Topics

Our discussion topics this semester have concerned the stigma surrounding Black Republicans, the repercussions of the election of Barrack Obama, and the true status of class and race on the campus.

 Questions/Comments/Suggestions/Additions?  Please feel free to e-mail Shenae Bell, BSU Alumni Liaison.


Upcoming Events

Virtual Lecture - Prof. Austin Sarat
April 24, 2014 | 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Southern Connecticut - Reception with President Biddy Martin
April 24, 2014 | 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

New York - NESCAC Alumni Happy Hour
April 24, 2014 | 7:00 - 10:00 p.m.

Philadelphia - RESCHEDULED Evening of music by the Chamber Music Society
April 24, 2014 | 8:00 p.m.

Amherst Today
April 24 - 25, 2014

May 28 - June 1, 2014


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Main Phone: 413.542.2313