Black and gold streamers accompanied by matching balloons lined the Longhouse at Lane Community College for the Black Student Union’s Bam Slam event on Mar. 2. Over 40 community members, including LCC students and faculty, attended the event that celebrated Black arts and music and brought awareness to racial discrimination towards America’s Black community.
The event included multiple speakers, live music and plenty of food. Brisket, macaroni and cheese, collard greens and chicken were catered by Tony’s BBQ. Hawaiian Punch, both Fruit Juicy Red and Lemon Berry Squeeze, accompanied the food.
BSU Vice President Jeremy Thomas started the event by welcoming and thanking all attendees and spotlighted all of the efforts it took to organize Bam Slam. From the BSU officers who helped set up and organize the event to the attendees, many of whom were strangers to the BSU, Thomas took time to express gratitude for their help and participation.
Thomas was forced to step into the lead position as host of the event, as the BSU President Amani Baxter was in New York attending an interview for admission to West Point Academy.
Ruth Koenig, Thomas’ next door neighbor, was the first speaker of the evening, sharing stories of her experience with the Freedom Summer Project in the 1960s. Koenig was a volunteer who campaigned for African-Americans’ right to vote in Mississippi.
“Black folks have been agitating, working, struggling, being murdered forever since they’ve been put in this country,” Koenig said. “They resisted many different times in many different ways – they started to have this courage to move forward.”
Eric Richardson, president of Lane County NAACP, was the second speaker. After his speech, where he spoke of how the Black community needs young leaders to stand up and join the older generation in spreading the awareness of the unjust condition in their communities, Richardson performed three songs on his double bass.
“I’m glad to be at this beautiful event, to help start a conversation in your generation about racial discrimination and police brutality that happens in our country today against Black people,” Thomas said.
The venue featured 30 Black Lives Matters posters on presentation boards placed around the tables.
According to The Washington Post, 75 unarmed members of the Black community have been killed by police since 2015, including the recent killing of veteran Arther McAfee Jr., who was shot twice in the chest while being detained on the ground on Jan. 20 in Longview, TX.
“We must keep the conversation going. Awareness is how we can fix the issue of police brutality in the Black community,” Thomas said. “We need to resist anything that distracts us from the narrative.”
BSU plans to organize an African Night event, in collaboration with the University of Oregon’s BSU during spring term. Similar to the Bam Slam, African Night would focus on music and art from local Black students and community members. BSU aims to have the event at UO’s Erb Memorial Union.