Welcome Black BBQ highlights tradition, community

Michelle Annett Roldan
Staff Writer

The Black Student Union held a “Welcome Black BBQ” Saturday in Fasnacht Court. 

About 30 La Verne community members, a mix of students and faculty, attended the event, which besides great food featured games, a performance by the Sanctioned Step Team dancers, and a strong sense of community. 

Participants enjoyed the event’s traditional soul food, such as brisket and mac and cheese. They also played various card games and board games and got to know one-another. 

A highlight for sure was the performance by the relatively new Sanctioned Step Team, which choreographed specifically for this event an impressive routine to Crime Mob’s “Knuck If You Buck.” 

Stepping or step dancing is a type of percussive dance in African American culture with elements of gymnastics, tap dancing, and break dancing. Stepping originated in the 1900s as competitive schoolyard dances performed by historically African American fraternities and sororities. 

“It’s our first performance as a new team,” said Simone Warren, freshman criminology major and Step Team member.  She said she enjoyed the event’s great sense of community. 

So did Sage Durr, freshman photography major and BSU member. 

“I’ve just been scoping around the different events … and I was interested in this one,” Durr said. “I think it’s important to have strong community so everybody (has) a welcome area where they all come and feel comfortable. This event is fun, you get to talk and meet new people.”

BSU President Heath Williams, junior business administration major, collaborated with organizations both on and off campus to put the event together. 

“It’s really about engaging with community and community activity and civic service,” Williams said. “Just to give everyone the opportunity to be heard… regardless of color, regardless of political affiliation.” 

Willams said he hopes this event and others will give students a strong and lasting sense of belonging.  

The BBQ event was co-sponsored by the Center for Multicultural Services, Black Student Services, the Sanctioned Step Team, the Black Student Union, The Office of Alumni Engagement/Black Alumni Affinity Group, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Kings Ascension, Black Faculty, College of Arts and Sciences, and Faculty Diversity Committee. 

Williams said he was delighted by what he saw BSU had created through collaboration on this event.

“Today’s turnout was very fulfilling, very satisfying,” Williams said. “I think especially it’s a reflection of the time we are living in, where people are leaving behind  (the sense of being) unincluded … They are willing to come out and participate, you know, as people.

“Stepping in particular is a very very impactful art and something that they’ve been wanting to demonstrate, so other people who may be interested in joining the Step Team (are) aware (it), and if they want to participate then they should,” Williams added.

“I enjoyed the community and the soul food and their choice of music,” said freshman Kearstin Bell, also a member of the Step Team. “They were very welcoming, especially as a Black student, just to know there’s a place you can go to connect with your people on campus.”

Williams said his mission for BSU is to provide bridges for students by engaging with Black students and Black allies.

The Welcome Black BBQ seemed to do just that. 

“It definitely helped a lot (and)  made me feel more comfortable and just more understood as a student,” Bell said.

Michelle Annett Roldan can be reached at michelle.roldan@laverne.edu.  

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Michelle Annett Roldan is a sophomore journalism major.

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