Looking Ahead: Black History Month and Black Arts Weekend

Following the recent Martin Luther King Jr. Day and with the upcoming Black History Month in February, the Office of Community and Multicultural Development (CaMD) and different Black student associations have been busy preparing events to celebrate Black history and culture. In particular, newly established club African Student Association (ASA) looks towards incorporating awareness for specifically African culture and identity in both their meetings throughout the year and in the events being held during Black History Month.

Describing the ways in which CaMD supports and provides safe spaces for Black students through various clubs and affinities, Aquita Winslow, Dean of CaMD, spoke on how the group assists these groups with their events as Black History Month nears. Winslow also mentioned CaMD’s contribution to the upcoming Black Arts Weekend, detailing the mutual relationship between the Black Student organizations and CaMD. 

“There are several clubs supporting Black and African American students and African students and Caribbean students [like] Af-Lat-Am, one of our major clubs that’s been at the school for over 50 years, the Black Student Union [BSU], the Caribbean Club, [and] there are several clubs that are specific just to African students. They hold regular meetings and as a part of those meetings, they plan different types of events. What’s going to happen during Black History Month is the groups supporting Black students are meeting and making the [event] agenda… They’ve already decided they are going to do a dance, that’s in the books, but they’re still in the process of planning and organizing [the other events]… What CaMD is doing is we have author Chris Cooper coming to speak, and that’s CaMD’s contribution to the Black Arts weekend,” said Winslow. 

Ticia Nhaule ’25, Co-President of ASA, detailed the plans that ASA and other clubs and affinities that support Black students have for the upcoming Black Arts Weekend during Black History Month. 

“Black History Month means a lot to us as a club, which is why we’re participating and organizing the programming, but as a new club, we have to shout out BSU and Af-Lat-Am who were really the brains of this operation and have been for the past years. It would not have happened without BSU and Af-Lat-Am, especially because the student leaders have really made such a big effort to create this space and maintain this space on campus. We’re going to do Afro-wave which is a little dance workshop, and thinking about how Afro-wave is going to play into the events that the BSU and Af-Lat-Am are planning, it truly feels like our identity as a club very much stems from Af-Lat-Am and BSU. If there wasn’t that setup before, it would’ve been way harder for us to hit the ground,” said Nhuale. 

Wambui Nyiha ’25, Co-President of the ASA, stressed the core values of the club. She also described how she hopes that the ASA creates a space on campus where Africans can come together and further explore their identity and culture with other students that share similar experiences. 

 “The main goal of [ASA] is to help other Africans on campus to build a space where they can go to find people that look like them or share a similar cultural identity to them. We just share things about our identity, and despite Africa being one continent, there are so many different aspects about each country and it’s just so interesting to see everyone coming from different parts and just sharing a little bit about their cultures and finding common similarities and differences within each other,” said Nyiha.

According to Nana Efua Damptey ’27, her experience as a Black student at Andover has differed greatly from her experiences at her previous school, appreciating the diversity of the community. Damptey continued by noting how CaMD affinities and clubs have eased the process of finding a community of students with similar experiences.

“Coming from a school with mostly white students, I was one of four Black kids in my entire grade. I was honestly surprised by how much diversity there was, in a good way… it was way better than I anticipated. All the clubs [and] initiatives were really welcoming and made me like this school even more… Being able to be part of clubs and going to CaMD are all [experiences] I really appreciate about this school. Having a community makes being at this school way easier.” said Damptey. 

Ozochi Onunaku ’25 similarly spoke on how the school has supported Black students in providing spaces to explore Black identity and Black history on campus. Onunaku also described his excitement for the ASA, hoping that the club will further encourage community building and education on African students and identity. 

“As a Black student at Phillips Academy, I feel like this school has been really supportive and provided a space for a lot of programming that is historical and educational about Black Americans in general, such as the diversity of Black Americans, the struggles that Black Americans have faced historically, and the successes of Black Americans across all generations… I hope to see the ASA give us an African perspective on Black history because I feel like… now that we have a student group such as the ASA that has a uniquely African side to it… it would be interesting to see [the different] African successes, African hardships, and all that sort,” said Onunaku.