Poole College of Management students and alumni, professors and staff have contributed their unique perspectives on NC State University’s theme for Black History Month this year: “Our Wings Will Fly.” The theme was developed by NC State’s Multicultural Student Affairs.
Poole College students’ reflections on the theme, captured in interviews and brief videos by Poole College’s diversity and inclusion team, are being displayed in Nelson Hall this month through a series of poster pop-ups and profiles published on the college’s news website. Biographies of notable individuals in black history also appear in the pop-up display series, as well as a 16-foot timeline with fast and fun facts about black history, locally and in the Poole College community.
Black History Month Pop-up Lunch, February 21
Poole College hosted a Black History Month luncheon, provided by Bull City Pitmaster, February 21. The catering service’s founder and chef, Johnathan Jones, a graduate of Riverside High School in Durham, said he was inspired by great chefs Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, Ed Mitchell and Myron Mixon to study culinary arts at The Chefs Academy in Morrisville, N.C. Chef Jones, who is skilled in various cuisines, opened Bull City Pitmasters as a full-service catering company in 2013.
A team of four students working with Tayah Butler, director of diversity and inclusion at Poole College, coordinated interviews with more than 18 members of the college community to learn about their experiences as black men and women while on campus and, for those who have graduated, in their professional lives.
Leading the project were Poole students Nichea Blanding, president of the Black Business Student Association; Noor Bokhari and Zeke Peay, interns in the Poole College Office of Undergraduate Programs, and Marlon Kinnard, mentor for the Black Male Initiative. Following are their reflections on bringing NC State’s theme for Black History Month, “Our Wings Will Fly,” to the Poole College community.
Team member reflections
Nichea (Chea) Blanding, senior, business administration
Project lead for video production and BBSA social challenge
Key takeaway: One thing I learned from this experience is that not one person has the same experience (as another) being a black student at NC State and if we give them the platform to share, we can learn a lot about who they are and what they hope to gain while at NC State.
Takeaway hope for others: One thing that I hope others learn as they read/view the content is that as a student, you have the opportunity to change the narrative, no matter what you identify with. Never be afraid to step outside your comfort zone or speak up for what you believe is right.
Noor Bokhari, senior, business administration
Design manager for all poster marketing for Black History Month at Poole College, and all things diversity and inclusion.
Key takeaway: From the process of coming up with marketing materials for Black History Month, I learned a lot about prominent African American figures that I had not heard of previously. For example, I learned about Robert F. Smith, who is currently the wealthiest African American.
About the theme: “Our Wings Still Fly” is about how, even though others have tried to knock you down, you rise up and prevail. This is a great message to build empowerment. To me, it is mainly looking at how you have overcome past challenges and come out the other side even stronger. It can also apply to going through current challenges. Your wings are part of your identity and no one has the power to take your identity away from you.
Takeaway hope for others: “… that those who are viewing the content and may not relate, will recognize the hardships that African Americans are still facing and be encouraged to be an ally. I also hope that the viewers who do relate to the content realize that they are not alone and that they feel that their identities are being celebrated.
Marlon Kinnard, sophomore, accounting
Project lead for Poole College’s Black History Month timeline creation
Key takeaway: Something I learned from the experience is that even when there are many things that need to be completed in a short period of time, with communication and devotion from our team, anything can get done.
About the theme: To me, “Our Wings Still Fly” is significant because it represents how even through the hardship and struggles that black people have endured in the past, they have still found ways to rise above expectations and to this day, excellence is being produced by many people throughout the world.
Takeaway hope for others: One thing I hope others learn from all of our content is that everyone is capable of doing anything to the same degree of others, regardless of their identities, and that all identities deserve to be represented and embraced equally.
Zeke Peay, junior, business administration
Project lead for video production and alumni interviews
Key takeaway: “My black is beautiful; veneration”
About the theme: “Our Wings Still Fly” reinforces, for me, the narrative I live by, the narrative that oppressive forces designed to dim my light will not succeed. It establishes the power, the perseverance of my ancestors, and defines me as royalty. No matter the adversity I face, it is not in my will to fail.”
Takeaway hope for others: “That we are not highlighting the black experience to draw sympathy, but rather to showcase excellence within the Diaspora, to give perspective to those who come after us, to create room for conversation, to change the narrative.”
Read more about Black History Month activities at NC State.