On Thursday, Feb. 6, the National Council of Negro Woman, Inc (NCNW) held a day long event entitled "For Us By Us." The event was a chance for students to come together and celebrate black culture, work on self-care and beauty, educate and uplift each other and make connections with other students and people already working in professional fields. The event started at 3 p.m. and went until 10 p.m. within the Miron Student Center (MSC) building.
The NCNW is a nationwide organization with other sections and affiliated groups connected to it, outside of Kean. The organization was founded on Dec. 5, 1935, by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, as a way to bring together women of African descent to uplift and guide each other through life. The NCNW is not just for women. Men are also welcome to join in membership.
Kean University's own NCNW organization was started in 2017, by their first president, Delois Blackmon. This semester saw the NCNW putting on the For Us by Us conference, a day filled with networking, togetherness and learning how to be comfortable in one's own skin.
Jenell Boykins, the current chaplain for the NCNW, explained the purpose and goals of For Us by Us.
"The intention of this event is just for [people to say], 'I want to be active on campus. I want to let my voice be heard...' [Let's not just] make this campus a better campus [for] African American people. [Let's make it so that] people know our culture, and [don't] just think it's a trend. Let them actually step into our shoes and know our culture, and know what we are about," said Boykins.
The day began with a Welcome event by the current NCNW president, Mary Clark, who went over the events and panels that would follow. From there, everyone was free to travel between the first floor and the second floor of the MSC to learn more about NCNW, or stop to view a panel.
The events of the day included Skin Deep with Self-Care in the Little Theater, during which issues of colorism, and how to combat it, were discussed with alumnus guest speaker Glenne De Gonzague.
There were also workshops like Staying Black in Corporate America, which focused on how to stay true to oneself while working in a professional setting. There were the dual workshops, Unraveling Her Truth and His Unspoken Truth, which tackled mental health for women and men in the black community.
Black owned businesses were present throughout the day for people to buy goods from and learn more about. There was also a U.N.I.T.Y. Black Org Fair, which allowed students to meet with the different black organizations that exist on campus, learn more about them and consider joining them.
To end the day, there was a panel titled, Young, Black & Creative, which took place in the MSC Cougar's Den from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The panel saw several black creatives come together to speak on their art and, encourage others to lean into their creative sides in an interactive discussion. The panel consisted of many speakers, including Shay Colon, Tayonna Lee, Nathaniel Jenkins, Siraaj Moore, Bre'Yanie Pearson, Danteé Ramos, Zayna Allen, Rahkim Fleetwood, Lena Noel, Amber Palmer and Atiya Ali.
NCNW will be hosting more events throughout the month of February for those interested in attending. They will be having an event called To Be Black & Woman on Feb. 12 and SOULFOOD: Food For The Soul on Feb. 27. For more information on NCNW and their upcoming events, check out their Cougar Link.