by Angel Barker
Students lined the Redwood Bowl Plaza for food, music, games and a performance on Feb. 24 for the Black Out Basketball pre-game rally. Organized by the Umoja Center for Pan African Student Excellence, it was a celebration of Cal Poly Humboldt’s Black faculty and staff.
The celebration was not just for the faculty and staff, but for the black student community. Douglas Smith, coordinator of the Umoja Center and masters student in English, was a critical part in making the event successful.
“It means a chance to have community,” Smith said. “A chance for Cal Poly Humboldt to support our Black student community like we would in society.”
The Umoja Center’s mission is to support the pan-African student community. Lots of students were in attendance for the pre-game tailgate, to support and celebrate community and the campus.
“I came out to support the game and the celebration that’s going on right now,” said Joy Mehn, a political science major.
The center is very important to Mehn.
“To me the center means family,” Mehn said. “So many good friends are in the Umoja Center. It is a place to just relax and come together.”
Gloria Thompson, a child development major, was attending the rally to celebrate Black excellence. Thompson found her people at the Umoja Center.
“I was a student at home dealing with a toxic family,” Thompson said. “I found my community and family there [the center].”
The rally featured Southern food and a drum and dance performance by the Duniya Dance and Drum Company. The San Francisco-based company was formed in 2007 to create dance and music.
Before the men’s basketball game, a video was played in honor of Black History Month and featured student athletes and what the month means to them and who they look up to.
All throughout the men’s game, free t-shirts were given to every person featuring the hashtag #LoveIsTheNewBlack and Black Out Game 2022. During half time of the men’s game, many of Cal Poly Humboldt’s Black faculty and staff were honored with flowers and a gift bag. The drummers from Duniya Dance and Drum Company were also in attendance and helped hype up the crowd with their music.
Thursday Feb. 24 was just one of the days to celebrate the Black community on the Cal Poly Humboldt campus.
“It is to celebrate school spirit, hang out and enjoy each other,” Smith said. “To enjoy good food and Black culture.”