The Association of Black Students is one of the university’s newest organizations and is starting out full force as it gains numbers. It is responsible for the campus gospel choir and step team. Last semester they spearheaded a breast cancer awareness campaign called Pink Out.
Director of Student Organizations Tiffany Wurdman said, “They are one of the most active organizations, and they are a group we have met with a lot because they are passionate about bringing change to this campus.”
The organization was chartered a year ago and started as a small group of seven friends. In a year it grew to a thriving group with 70 official members and 30 active members.
President of ABS senior communication major Jasmine Austin said, “At the end of the year, we wanted to expand. We were thinking we could get six or seven more people and then we could really do something, but at the sign up date we had like 100 people sign up.”
Contrary to what the name might suggest, the Association of Black Students does not exclude other ethnicities from joining the group.
It a diverse group of students with members that hail from all walks of life. The aim of the organization is to create a broader understanding of black culture.
ABS Vice President junior criminal justice major Pearlie Gault said, “We are not discriminating against any person at UMHB. We are basically here to educate everyone about the black history and the culture of African Americans. Our motto is black is the presence of all colors.”
The gospel choir was one of the first parts of the association. They have not performed at many events and are still getting off the ground, but they have at least two performances scheduled this semester.
The step team is a recent addition to the organization. It is a small team of roughly eight members. Last semester they performed for a Preview Weekend event.
Austin said, “ Our step team is ambitious. They want to expand and perform at more events. I think that when they do begin to book dates, they will get bigger.”
ABS hopes to continue to grow this new year. They have a number of events planned for black history month including an open mic night, an event called Gospel Explosion and a special black history themed chapel.
The first open mic night is scheduled just after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Director of Media Services Dr. George Harrison will do an impression of Martin Luther King and give a speech. Along with some poetry readings and songs, important facts about black history will be interjected at different segments.
Gospel Explosion will likely be scheduled on a Thursday and will take place instead of worship in the quad. ABS plans to have its gospel choir perform at the event and some pastors speak as well.
Junior nursing major Irissa Bunch said, “We are going to have different groups come in and a guest speaker. It is pretty much just like a big concert.”
At the special chapel, the gospel choir will likely lead worship, and a praise team will dance. There will be slides about black history, and some students will discuss figures in black history.
The organization welcomes support from anywhere it is offered. Not every member can attend meetings so they receive updates via email.
Though it has greatly expanded since it was chartered ABS still retains that close knit feel it had in the beginning.
Austin said, “The way I see my role as president is just another member of the family we have built.”
ABS is an organization with growing popularity. They welcome all students to join them.
Bunch said, “We will be doing community outreach, so students are welcome to get involved. They don’t have to join the association to be involved. The gospel choir and step team are a branch of ABS, and everyone is welcome to be a part.”
Information on the Association of Black Students can be found on the student organization website http://studentorgs.umhb.edu/association-black-students.