BSU hosts Sankofa Awards ceremony

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The Black Student Union hosted its first Sankofa Awards in the Shoshone Room on May 10 in an effort to celebrate the achievements of African American clubs, organizations, students, faculty and staff.

With the room in the Satellite Student Union filled nearly beyond capacity, the building manager had to bring in more chairs to accommodate all of the guests.

“This is exactly the kind of thing we want to see,” said Tom Spencer-Walters, Pan-African Studies Department chair. “The unity and support brings us all together. It is reflective of the students, and motivates success.”

Attendees included William Watkins, vice president of Student Affairs, and Debra Hammond, University Student Union executive director.

“I’m really touched by this program,” Hammond said.

Kelvin Truitt was host for the event, and the CSUN Gospel Choir, which was nominated for Organization of the Year, performed the Black National Anthem.

Alexandria Barabin and Patrice Ferguson performed a poetic tribute entitled “Can You See Him?” while dance performances from Black Reign and the BSU African Ensemble kept the audience entertained.

“I thought the program was pretty good,” said Amber Rhodes, an undeclared freshman and member of the CSUN Gospel Choir. “I liked seeing the end product of what our community did here at Northridge.”

Nominees for awards were honored in an Academy Awards-type fashion, with the winners’ names concealed in envelopes. Winners in each category were awarded framed certificates, and some were given the Sankofa Ma’at Award.

Some awards included The Back to Africa Award for New Program of the Year, Pan-African Studies professor of the Year, and Organization of the Year.

“It was nice to see all of the black leadership and faculty together to be recognized,” said Aureal Wilson, BSU treasurer. “That doesn’t happen often.”

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., won in several award categories, including The Carter G. Woodson Award for Program of the Year and The Mary McLeod Bethune Award for (student organization) President of the Year.

“Alpha Phi Alpha is known for leadership,” said Carlden Lainfiesta, Pi Kappa chapter president of Alpha Phi Alpha. “It was great to be recognized by black students, and great to see that our work (wasn’t) in vain. Being a student is not enough. You need to be involved in an organization to give back.”

James Golden, president of the BSU, said he was proud of the way the event turned out.

“It was a blessing to have this many African Americans together for a positive experience,” Golden said.

Though Golden will no longer be president next year, he said he is confident that what he has helped create will continue going strong.

“(The) BSU has made many progressions, and we must always remember the past,” Golden said. “We’re still here and strong.”