Joy Heard, president of the Black Student Union (BSU) at Columbia College Chicago. She is a senior, majoring in Art Entertainment and Media Management.
Why is the BSU important.
Columbia is diverse, but there can be times where you don’t see that many black people in the classroom. The BSU is a place where blacks can congregate in a relaxing but educated environment. You get the chance to meet people who are like minded and share similar passions and backgrounds. It’s kind of like that saying “Birds of a feather flock together.”
When did you first start attending BSU meetings and why.
I first started in 2010. I came to get to know other students of my background. I met a lot of people through the BSU with similar goals as me. I realized that Shunda Watts, former vice-president of the BSU and Columbia College graduate, and I both use art as a means to serve the community. We also planned and implemented programs and events that gives students the opportunity to show and develop talent. I served as Watts’s assistant for the annual “Paint It Black” talent showcase. I helped plan decorations, put together programs and slideshow presentations.
What made you decide to become president of the Black Student Union.
I didn’t decide to become president. I was selected by Kimberley Weatherly, director of African American Cultural Affairs. Before she made me president, I was the student organization council representative. I felt like I was coming from a position with less demands to a position that required me to be attentive and productive to the inner workings of a prestigious organization. I’ve learned time management and how to be aware of deadlines. I also learned that leadership takes time and patience. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Also, I learned how to delegate different tasks to individuals and supervise these tasks as well.
Why is the “Paint It Black” showcase so important.
Paint It Black is the biggest event the BSU hosts; this year is the sixth time BSU has had the event. This event is important because it educates those who may not be familiar or interested in African American arts. It gives students a platform to perform in various facets, including singing, acting, theatrical performance, dance, visual art, comedy and poetry. It gives opportunities for students to develop production skills, experience in planning a live event as well as marketing. The event mostly honors black entertainers. A BSU member would perform a song that a legend has made. We have honored legends such as Spike Lee, Whitney Houston, TLC, August Wilson, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Bernie Mac, Billie Holiday, Chaka Khan, Tina Turner, Gladys Knight, the Temptations, Salt-N-Pepa, New Edition and Patti LaBelle.
What actions would you like to see the BSU take head on in the upcoming years.
I would like the BSU to have established two more major events besides Paint It Black, in order to make BSU a more well rounded organization.
Interviewed by Nick Samuel