Students and visitors found their way to the north side of campus on Halsted St. for the soft opening event of the newly renovated Black House building. Under the theme of “Black Lives Matter at the Black House Nurturing Creative and Cultural Expressions—The Unspoken Word,” the event emphasized the black community.
“We wanted to maintain that richness of black culture here and be able to attract the black community, the black students in this particular house,” said Africana studies department chair Theresa White. “That’s our mission.”
The event opened up with visitors walking through the new facility to view the nine new rooms that are available for students and the black organizations on campus. These spaces are meant to be utilized during the upcoming semesters. Inside the Black House can be found a main room for hangouts, a reservation room for meetings, a study room for groups, a computer lab, a kitchenette area, a screening room, a library filled with books from the Africana studies majors and minors, as well as material from disciplines throughout the campus, the Black House coordinator’s office and the Black Student Union (BSU) executive headquarters.
“I love what they’ve done to the place,” said David L. Horne, an Africana studies professor and former chair of the Black House. “It hasn’t looked this nice since I’ve been here,” he said laughing while looking around the newly renovated space.
After the walk through, attendees viewed a performance by CSUN’s ASA African dance team while the BSU president, Robert Wilson, acted as DJ. Followed by short speeches by White, Black House student coordinators Brittanie Day and Zakiyah Webster, Professor Sheba Lo, who performed a libation ceremony, Provost Yi LI and Vice President William Watkins, among others. Several students who were there performed pieces of spoken word poetry before breaking for dinner.
Webster said not many students, especially freshman who live in the dorms, know about the Black House and the resources it offers. She said they wanted to have a place for students to relax or use for academic purposes.
“The Black House was utilized by students far before now,” Webster said. “The students in the Africana Studies department partnered together in an effort to make this a safe haven for African-American students on campus.”
Horne said the Black House has always been a place for black students to feel comfortable like they were a part of a family.
“The Black House was always a functional place for conversation, for engagement, for basically feeling good about being a black student at CSUN because you had other folks who helped you negotiate that,” Horne said. “You didn’t feel like you were alone.”
The Black House first opened in the 1970s, built from the sacrifices and struggles of minority students. White said that these students wanted to create this house to share wisdom and teach the community about the vitality, the diversity, the substance and the richness of those from the black diaspora. In coming months, the Black House will have many different resources and programs for students such as workshops, mentorships, professional development and motivational speakers to name a few.
Students may stop by to see the newly renovated and furnished Black House during the grand opening reception in fall 2017.