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The Chronicle

Woodland visit prepares next generation of Black excellence

Photo by Christopher Hayden
Photo by Christopher Hayden

On February 21, 2024, the Black Student Union (BSU) took a trip to Woodland Middle School.

Our visit served as an introduction of the BSU organization to middle school students. As a member of the BSU, I had a strong desire to be a part of this.

Aside from myself, the BSU members who visited Woodland were Rose Garay-Rodriguez and BSU President Daniel Blaine.
After all of us arrived, we were introduced to Jennifer Summers-Lemoine. She was the sixth-grade Resource Teacher and oversaw the entire visit.

While walking through the school, I admittedly became nostalgic. Even though I have never attended Woodland, seeing the lockers in the hallways and children running around made me think back to when I was a middle schooler.
There were 20 children in attendance. All of them were of African American descent.

President Blaine started off by introducing himself before Garay-Rodriguez and I did the same. We all then told the children how long each of us had been attending the College of Lake County.

Afterward, President Blaine asked the children about who their favorite African American icons were. The answers were mostly what would be expected of today’s youth.

LeBron James, Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington Carver, and Drake were among some of the names that were mentioned by the children. I also mentioned Martin Luther King Jr. as my favorite when it was our turn to answer the question.
It felt good to see today’s Black youth acknowledge the success that African Americans have had in recent and older times. That showed me that the current generation has not lost sight of what we have contributed to American culture.

President Blaine, Garay-Rodriguez, and I then gave our reasoning for why we joined the BSU while telling the kids about the organization. Garay-Rodriguez ‘s reasoning was very common and relatable.

“The reason I joined BSU was to immerse myself in Black culture and learn more about myself,” said Garay-Rodriguez. “I also joined to inspire others to do great things, starting with clubs in college.”

BSU membership looking good on college applications was another reason why Garay-Rodriguez joined.

President Blaine then brought up how his desire to be a part of CLC’s Black Student Union came from a promise he made to Beverly Phelps, the former advisor for BSU, to get more involved in student organizations.

“Post lockdown, I saw CLC’s first and oldest student organization in need of revival,” said President Blaine. “I took the chance to be part of the process.”

A big part of my reasoning was that the Union allowed me to be surrounded by people who looked like me. Often being the only Black person in a classroom setting made me feel like the odd one out a lot of times.

Going off my reasoning, President Blaine then elaborated on why BSU membership was important.
“BSU is important so students that look like us will always have a built-in community where they can share experiences and a culture unique to them,” said President Blaine.

I then stated that the threat of Black history being erased and not taught in schools in the future was an even more urgent reason why the BSU was important. This cannot be allowed to happen again.

President Blaine then went over a couple of upcoming projects that the BSU has coming up. One of them was the Car Literacy Project.

“Raise your hand if you know how to change a tire, jump a car, or fill up a car with no gas on the road,” said President Blaine to the students. “Raise your hand if you know what to do if your engine starts smoking and the smoke is black, white, pink.”
As expected, there were not that many hands raised. Kids do not usually know how to do those things.

“BSU wants to help teach the community about car literacy for first-time and new drivers, or anyone in need of a refresher,” said President Blaine. He then went on to talk about the upcoming Mother’s Day Dinner that the Black Student Union has planned.

“BSU also wants to celebrate the hard work moms do for their families,” said President Blaine. “Raise your hand if your mom has a hard job or if it’s tough raising you.”

As one would expect, all the children in the classroom raised their hands. Being a parent is never easy.
“We want to celebrate the work of the moms at A Safe Place’s Transitional Living Center with a gift for Mother’s Day,” said President Blaine. A Safe Place is a domestic abuse treatment center in Zion, Illinois.

President Blaine ended the meeting with some parting words of wisdom when it came to the kids growing up and going to college.
“You guys can do whatever you want,” said President Blaine. “The world is literally your oyster.”

Photo by Christopher Hayden

At the end of the meeting, we all took pictures together. The kids were a bit more active and engaged when it came to that part. President Blaine, Garay-Rodriguez, and I then bid farewell to Summers-Lemoine and the children.

Overall, this was a fantastic experience. Admittedly, I originally was a bit nervous and not sure of how things would go. However, the visit was better than I expected.

I hope that we inspired the next generation of Black youth to take initiative when it comes to improving our community. Our people need more positivity and good role models like never before.

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About the Contributor
Christopher Hayden
Christopher Hayden, Managing Editor