ABC: The building blocks of diversity

During the month of February, the excellence and achievements of African Americans in U.S. history are celebrated and remembered. The University of Tulsa’s Association of Black Collegians (ABC) is devoted to spreading diversity across campus and throughout The City of Tulsa.

Since establishing a TU chapter in 1969, ABC holds a firm belief in the empowerment and equality of all people with a focus on black and afro-identifying students. “Our mission is to call attention to issues facing the black community while uplifting, educating and creating a free and critically thinking environment for marginalized students on The University of Tulsa’s campus,” explained ABC representative and history major Jenna Lazenby.

ABC is open and welcoming to all TU students. “We love to have students from different backgrounds be a part of our group. Many students only want to participate in our big events and hesitate to come to meetings, but we would love to hear their input and ideas,” Lazenby said.

Entirely built of strong, driven, socially conscious and competent leaders dedicated to improving the community, ABC works with administration, Student Association, faculty and staff to implement cultural and educational programming that highlights ABC’s core values, which include growth, positivity, diversity, inclusivity, boldness, pro-blackness, persistence, intentionality and unity.

ABC hosts annual and educational events such as the Kwanzaa Celebration, where participants gain an understanding of the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa and the history surrounding the holiday. “My favorite thing about ABC is the diversity in our programming. We make sure there are events that appeal to many different groups of people, and we enjoy helping within our community,” Lazenby explained.

Leading by example

ABC representatives served on a committee, spearhead by Director of Multicultural Affairs Amanda Chastang, to help organize TU’s participation in Tulsa’s Martin Luther King Jr. parade where TU students, faculty and staff walked through the Greenwood district, formally known as Black Wall Street — the same location as the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

MLK day is special for psychology student and ABC Vice President Kennedy Paredes, “To be a black person, I think this is important to bring attention to how much progress has been made and also how much more there is to be done,” she explained.

Tori Cole, a biochemistry major, remembers and celebrates the Civil Rights activist by keeping his dream alive through community service. “Dr. King did so much for us, so giving back to the community is really important and shows how grateful we are to have a day in history to honor him,” she said.

 

Defining diversity

To Lazenby, diversity is more than just a word, it’s an action. “Being diverse encompasses more than including one woman or a black person or even a person of color,” she said.

She defined diversity to include but not limited to men, women, non-binary individuals, old, young, white, people of color, straight and LGBT. “Diversity also requires that you take action so that everyone’s voice is heard and represented. If you are more concerned with looking diverse, but aren’t putting forth actions to be diverse, sadly you aren’t diverse,” Lazenby explained.

ABC offers students a chance to express themselves and be surrounded by individuals with similar experiences. The organization exposes students to different cultures and communities on and off campus. “Our organization is a source of diversity on campus, not just because we are an organization of black, afro-identifying, and brown peoples, but because we also make the effort to include all individuals and give them a place to use their voices,” Lazenby said.

Students of any race, sexual orientation or background are welcome to join ABC or participate in its activities.

During the month of February, ABC is hosting diverse, educational and entertaining events.
Soul Food Soirée, Feb. 18, 5:00 p.m.- Pat Case Dining Center
Black Leadership Panel, Feb. 26, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.- Student Union Great Hall C
Self Care Night, Feb. 26, 6:30 p.m. – Student Union Great Hall C
Black Wall Street and the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, Feb. 27, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. Mayo Village SAC (across from Pat Case Dining Center)
Game Night, Feb. 28, 7:30 p.m. – Student Union Choteau