On Monday, Aug 22., 2022, the Black Students Board (BSB) held Back 2 School Jam: Reloaded Edition in the Talley Student Union.
Back 2 School Jam is an event held to celebrate the Black community on campus by giving them a space to meet their peers, promote organizations, find new communities and have a good time overall. The event consisted of two main sections: the club fair and the performance.
The Back 2 School Jam started off with the organization fair. The organization fair allowed Black organizations to have their time in the spotlight on a campus where they are often overshadowed.
Students were incentivized to talk to multiple organizations through a piece of paper that was handed out when students checked in. The paper was for students to go to different organizations to get stamps, which would earn them a free t-shirt. Not all booths had a stamp so this would make students interact with organizations they may have ignored, which in turn may allow them to foster new connections. Although the stamps provided an incentive, the club fair took place on the third floor of the Talley Student Union with little space between organizations. Due to the size, it was inevitable to see all organizations. There were a lot of organizations with very eager members packed onto one floor so it would have been hard not to interact with at least a few of them.
There was a large variety of organizations ranging from major/career oriented, identity oriented, fraternities and sororities to ones centered around hobbies and common interests. Nubian Message spoke to some of these organizations to understand the importance of the Back 2 School Jam. We asked some organizations to share information about themselves and why the club fair is important for them.
Kiersten Hicks, the president of the Black Artist Coalition (BAC), a second-year majoring in Electrical Engineering, said, “So essentially we are just a bunch of black people just trying to gather all artists from an outreach and build and hone in on our artistic skills and just broaden as a small organization.”
We also spoke with Dre Jordan, the president of the Multicultural Young Educators Network (MYEN), a second-year majoring in Technological Engineering and Design Education, “Multicultural Young Educators network is all about youth advocacy and promoting diversity through the NC State community and outside.” MYEN is one of the relatively new organizations to participate in the club fair and Jordan made it clear how much of an opportunity they view it as, “I am so excited to be here at Back 2 school jam. This is a huge opportunity for our club. We got some big things coming up, so I’m really glad to be able to use the space to get the word out about MYEN because we’re really focusing on community this year and this space allows us to do that.” Building community and long-lasting relationships, especially in the career sense, was a common theme among the organizations.
Nehemiah Macdonald, the Vice President of North Carolina State University’s National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), a fourth-year majoring in Industrial System Engineering, emphasized the ways their organization tries to increase the number of Black engineers by providing for the community, “So our organization’s job is to increase the number of black engineers and so we do that by engaging the community at NC state with opportunities to have internships and jobs. Also, we think service is important as an engineering organization. So we serve our community, the kick 12 outreach, and even within NC state as a campus. We also have scholarships that are provided by the organization as a whole.”
Many organizations emphasized providing for and uplifting their community, especially when speaking to members of the Divine Nine (D9) sororities and fraternities.
Jeanine Ikekhua, the Educational Advancement Foundation captain of the Kappa Omicron chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., a third-year majoring in International Studies and Communications, shared how her organization values the Black community “We’re very passionate about serving our community. So we make sure to cater to the African American community, we also focus on building bonds between black women and also making sure that the black community at NC state is always served here.”FfFfpr
The Secretary of the Eta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Alvin Mutongi, a fourth-year majoring in civil engineering, said this: “service, scholarship, brotherhood, those are our values. But what that looks like is advocating and making campus better for black students.So we’re in the African American cultural center, we’re in MSA.”
The current chapter resident of the Mu Omicron Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Daryn Wilkerson, a fourth-year majoring in fashion design, said, “We are a service based organization. We care about the black community is something we vow to help out in any way. And we also care about sisterhood between black identifying women and uplifting each other in this mostly white world.” When asked if there was anything they sought to gain from the Back 2 School Jam, Wilkerson replied with this, “I hope less to gain, but more to give. By showing that there’s, first of all, D9 on this campus, which I know for a lot of black freshmen that is not common knowledge and even some black, sophomores and juniors, because of COVID. So I hope to show that we do have a plethora of black experiences that can be shown in any format they need.”
The incoming first-year students were definitely on many people’s minds as they wanted to showcase that they do have space on campus. Kiersten Hicks stated, “I’m excited to meet the new freshmen and try to excite them and bring up new opportunities for them.” The exposure the organizations receive from tabling at the Back 2 School Jam is beneficial not only to them but also to the students they interact with.
Despite the main attraction of the club fair being the organizations, students could just chat with their peers, have refreshments, and enjoy the environment before the Back 2 School Jam performance started.
The Back 2 School Jam performances took place in Stewart theatre. The event was hosted by the director of the Black Students Board (BSB), Kelis Johnson.
The night’s first performance was from the Code Red cheer team, who did a stomp and shake cheer. They danced to popular songs such as ”Say I Yi Yi” by the Ying Yang Twins and did their own chants, which the audience seemed to enjoy. Following Code Reds’ performance was the Fusion dance crew, who gave a high-energy performance doing hip-hop-style choreography to songs from popular artists such as Latto and Doja Cat.
The next performance was by the Mu Xi Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. The sorority opened up by saying how a Zeta always looks good. Their performance consisted of strolling and a section dedicated to the achievements and history of the sorority. They focused on what they achieved first and did out of the sororities.
After some of the performances, Johnson would come back to play games with the audience for prizes. The game was a dance battle between volunteers from the audience. One specific volunteer named Michael caught the audience’s attention for his unique dance moves, this made him somewhat of the night’s main character and winner the battle.
After the break for the dance battle, the next performers were the Eta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. They strolled and spoke about their history and achievements on campus, such as one of their members, Timothy Reid being the student body vice president. Their facial expressions throughout the performance were very notable and engaging for the audience members.
The following performers were the Kappa Omega chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., who strolled and spoke about their sororities’ history and accomplishments. They would tap canes on the floor for extra emphasis, which grabbed the audience’s attention. They strolled off the stage with some older members of their sorority.
Then, there was another break where Johnson invited audience members on stage to do iconic dances such as the wobble, swag surf, and the electric slide. The next game was “finish the lyrics” for iconic songs. The room was split into two groups, the left and right team and each team had to help their leader finish the lyrics of popular songs. The two groups were pretty competitive and things got hype and heated fast, leading to a boo-off between the two sides of the room.
After Johnson calmed the room down, the next performers, the Kappa Omicron chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., entered the stage to a backtrack of what was a recreation of people gossiping about them. The things said in the backtrack were along the lines of “Does KO even perform anymore?”. They strolled and talked about their history and achievements. They finished their confident performance by strolling off the stage.
The final fraternity to perform was the Xi Zeta chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. They introduced themselves and shouted out their sister sorority, Mu Xi Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. They performed to Meek Mill’s popular song “Dreams and Nightmares.” After speaking about their history and successes, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. members from different chapters joined the Xi Zeta on stage. One of the members from a different chapter started this portion of the performance off with a soulful melody, after which they stepped and chanted.
After the final D9 performance, all present D9 organizations came back on stage to stroll to various songs. The night’s final performance came from the Uninhibited Praise Gospel Choir who gave a strong vocal performance with a live band. Their vocals entranced the audience. They sang multiple songs, but the most notable was their performance of “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” by Kanye West.
Even during the hype performances and competitive games, it was clear what the Back 2 School Jam was about—creating a space for black students on campus and making a stronger community. Daryn Wilkerson stated, “it’s really nice to see black people coming together, cause it’s very hard to find us when it’s in between classes. So I’m glad we’re providing a space for everyone to come together and see that they’re not alone.” It’s important to be around people who look like you and the Back 2 School Jam provides Black students with that opportunity.