March on ‘Till Victory is Won

BSU Holds Black Solidarity Day

Black+Solidarity+Day+has+been+celebrated+across+the+country+for+the+past+47+years.+
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March on ‘Till Victory is Won

Black Solidarity Day has been celebrated across the country for the past 47 years.

Black Solidarity Day has been celebrated across the country for the past 47 years.

KRITHI VACHASPATI

Black Solidarity Day has been celebrated across the country for the past 47 years.

KRITHI VACHASPATI

KRITHI VACHASPATI

Black Solidarity Day has been celebrated across the country for the past 47 years.

Rachel Still, Contributing Writer

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On the eve of election day, members of the Black Student Union (BSU) were joined by fellow Clarkies of color as well as white allies in apprehensively observing this year’s Black Solidarity Day. The Black community has come together on the Monday before the presidential election every year since 1969 to discuss power, liberation, and the Black experience.

Black Solidarity Day was inspired by Douglas Turner Ward’s one-act play “A Day of Absence,” which explored the social, political, and economic importance of the Black community. Dramatizing how Black absence from American infrastructure sparked the collapse of U.S. culture, industry, and commerce, the play demonstrated the vitality of the Black community to ordinary American function.

Observers of Black Solidarity Day gathered in Red Square, dressed primarily in black clothes to recognize the African American influence on America. BSU Members explained the day’s history and importance while candles were lit in the background. Members and nonmembers alike shared influential poetry and other works of literature highlighting African American struggles and the need for racial reform.

BSU welcomed Lynn Pescaro (’17) who read her original article “Empty Building Important Part of Clark’s African-American and Woman Students’ Narrative.” Pescaro shared what she learned while investigating what should be done with Clark’s vacant building on Woodland Street. What she found is the that empty house was once home to the Downing Street Administrative Offices of Clark University in the 1960s. More importantly, the building was home to a protest held by students of color in February of 1969 in response to the failure of Clark’s president at the time, Frederick Jackson, to follow through on his promise to use financial assistance to incentivize diversity. Pescaro wrote of the Clark community unifying to establish the Black Student Scholarship Fund and ultimately leading to Jackson’s resignation in August of 1969. She ended her reading with a tone of hope inspired by the strength of Clark’s community of color to stand their ground against an authority threatening to limit the opportunity for other students of color to enrich the campus in the future.

This story of civil unrest represents part of the African American narrative that Black Solidarity Day is meant to highlight: although we are stepped on and oppressed, we continue to fight until we either win or can no longer fight. Black Solidarity Day occurs the day before elections to emphasize the importance of a united Black community in the war against the oppression and systematic racism that seems to engulf us.

The day ended with the Black Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

BSU board members and the crowd sang along to the recording, “Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us / Sing a song full of hope that the present has brought us.”