Gloria Howell, director of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, knew she and the Neal-Marshall should do something for the students once they were on campus.
Working with the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs, Howell worked to create something that will provide students with the same feeling of community and connection that the Neal-Marshall strives to provide. The idea was the Black IU Bags filled with various items from the center, such as tote bags, T-shirts, buttons, planners, and tech tattoos.
“We want our students to have a piece of the Neal-Marshall with them,” Howell said. “We did something similar for our 50th anniversary, which was well received.”
Any student may pick up a bag, but freshmen students receive an additional item. This year’s Freshman Pinning Ceremony ―a ceremony that helps students recognize their place within the legacy of the Black academe at Indiana University, as well as provide an introduction to Black student leaders, faculty, staff, and community members ―was canceled. “But we still want our students to feel a connection to faculty and staff, which is how we came up with the idea to include notes of affirmation from Black staff and faculty for freshman students, to make them feel welcome and connected to the community,” Howell said.
Additionally, all students will receive four books written by Black authors: Fire This Time by Jesmyn Ward, Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Miki Kendall, and I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. The books were selected—according to Howell—to show the students “that Black creatives have produced some amazing things, and we celebrate them.”
The bags are available for pick-up at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center in the Bridgwaters Lounge on October 9.