The newly-formed Union of African American Student is expanding its reach on the campus of the University of South Dakota.
The Union of African American Students consists of 13 students and was formed last August with the goal of creating cross-cultural dialogue.
“We realized there wasn’t a lot of representation for students of color,” said senior Taylor Moore, president of the Union of African American Students.
The Union, inspired by the former Black Student Union organization hosted USD’s first step show.
The Union held its first major event Feb. 15 in Farber Hall.
The event consisted of a recitation of Langston Hughes’ “Let America be America Again,” passages of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” a short presentation on African culture and a step show.
The show, featuring five men from the Beta Upsilon Chapter of Omega Psi Phi from Omaha, Neb., highlighted African traditions of song and dance as they stomped on the stage in gold combat boots with purple laces, a fraternity tradition.
Graduate student Elvis Ngonga, who presented “African Past in the African American Present,” thought the program would create bridges across cultural biases.
“There are many senses of African culture,” Ngonga said. “We need to know why people are doing things and what they believe.”
The Union of African American Students is a separate organization than the African Student Association, but shares similar goals.
“We all have the same mission,” Moore said. “We still have strong ties to things that are African, even if we can’t trace where we came from.”
That mission, according to Moore, is to create an open forum, which would lead to inclusive excellence and diversity.
“It is also about celebrating our blackness, our Africanness,” Ngonga said.