Black Leadership Union (B.L.U.) seeks to build an environment that welcomes the encouragement of multicultural diversity. It consists of five e-board members: President Shannon Assing, Vice President Vanessa Hubbard, Secretary Keiana Curry, Treasurer Christian Pemberton and Director of Public Relations Dominique Thomas.
This organization has a mission for the acceptance of cultures, especially in the improvement of the black community at Kean. B.L.U. is open to all students, as it is inclusive and serves as a proponent for the progression of the members and the community. B.L.U. wants prospective members to know that they will be supported, included and have the opportunity to express themselves.
Upon considering joining this organization, students should be ambitious, open-minded and interested in expanding their knowledge of the cultural impacts of the Black community.
President Assing, a senior studying communication with a minor in Africana Studies, founded the club with a mission to serve as an open forum for the community. Beginning with himself and Vice President Hubbard, the two assembled multiple passionate students who shared their values and goals.
"Our organization was started last semester when my e-board and I had the idea to provide an open forum for solution-based discussions," said Assing. "Our organization was originally inspired by 'The Grapevine', which is a well-known social media brand that practices much of what we hoped to emulate. We had very little understanding of student involvement at Kean and how things worked so we wanted to create a comfortable place for us and other students to actively engage in discussions on hot topics related to the Black community and create events based on these discussions."
In order to become the organization they are today, B.L.U. filled out a petition through the Involvement Center to become recognized.
"We wrote up a constitution, bylaws and developed a mission statement that reflected our desires. It took a great deal of time to distinguish ourselves from other Black organizations because, at face value, we seemed very similar to them. All in all, our dedication and passion for change was recognized and our organization came to fruition," said Assing.
Aside from being an advocate for the Black community, Black Leadership Union's other goals are to provide a safe, comfortable forum where members can be honest in discussions about issues within the Black community.
"We seek to instill leadership in our members by allowing them to recognize their potential for change and how much their influence on this campus can be revolutionary," said Assing. "We not only celebrate Black culture, but we challenge it on a daily basis in order to better define and then refine the idea of blackness into something that will push our community forward and create pride for our future Black leaders."
Aside from founding Black Leadership Union, Assing also mediates all operations and provides his members with administrative advice and assistance necessary to build their abilities as e-board members.
"I am the main channel of communication on major endeavors as well as the neutral voice of reason concerning any conflict of interest. My goal as president is to keep the ball rolling and be the rock that holds everything together while personifying my organization's beliefs," said Assing.
Vice President Hubbard, a sophomore studying communication, agrees that "the mission of Black Leadership Union is to engage in discussions that allow a variety of black perspectives to come together and create a better understanding of their community around them."
As vice president, Hubbard helps Assing prepare for upcoming general body meetings and events, like creating agendas and developing topics for conversation. She also helps moderate conversations during our general body meetings.
"In my opinion, I think this club is important to Kean because encouraging these discussions promotes positive connections in the black community here at Kean," said Hubbard.
Secretary Curry, a sophomore studying psychology, said, "We created B.L.U. to help students become more active and to find a way to promote themselves, their businesses and possibly network with others."
Within Black Leadership Union, her main responsibilities lie in keeping track of attendance, as well as the meeting minutes.
"I believe B.L.U. is an important club to have at any campus," said Curry. "There’s always a need to have a safe space for those to come and speak their mind. For some, it’s a form of much needed therapy and gives them a platform to speak on things they have a passion for."
Public Relations Director Thomas, a junior studying biology, said, "This club is very important at Kean. I believe it provides a forum for our students to connect over similar experiences and support each other. Our meetings feel like taking a weight off your shoulder with people who have that same weight, and I think everyone on campus deserves to belong to a group like that."
As public relations director, Thomas runs the organization's social media accounts which include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, while maintaining a healthy connection between B.L.U. and other organizations.
Treasurer Pemberton, a senior studying public relations, said, "This club is invaluable. Having grown up in a predominantly white community, I myself struggled to fit in among my very own community. However, B.L.U. was one of the first organizations that made it easy to form black relations, by total acceptance of my personality. Evolving from high school students into college scholars, B.L.U. can aide one's transformation with a tender and wise touch."
Furthermore, Treasurer Pemberton handles all the monetary aspects of Black Leadership Union, from banking to budget plans per the approval of the e-board.
All five e-board members want students to feel comfortable and to make B.L.U. an option for insightful open discussions and useful knowledge.