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Members of the Black Student Cultural Programming Board (From left to right) Tatiana Farmer, Tyrell Carter, Shelbie Briggs, Janetta Edwards, and Antwanette Pack pose for a portrait at this year's Kwanzaa celebration in the Baker Center ballroom on December 4, 2019.

Black Student Cultural Programming Board provides cultural education for decades

There are over 550 student organizations on campus, but only a few have been around for longer than a decade, one of those organizations being the Black Student Cultural Programming Board.

There’s speculation with the exact founding of the Black Student Cultural Programming Board (BSCPB), but the group aims to provide social, cultural, educational and recreational programs for all students. It seeks to expose others to the culture and perspectives of African Americans through a variety of events the group hosts throughout the school year.

BSCPB, has a lot of history, and most students don’t know it.  

“It's important to the founders, the black alums that we understand the history of where the board is coming from and what they did so that we can bring this into fruition,” Winsome Chunnu-Brayda, advisor to the organization, said. 

According to the archives from members of BSCPB in the ‘70s and Chunnu-Brayda’s personal notes, Ohio University tried everything in its power to prevent BSCPB from becoming a student organization. 

“President Sowle and [black students] went to the president's office, and there was a sit-in where they wanted more black faculty and staff, they wanted more black programming,” Chunnu-Brayda said. “The students wanted more black RAs, black professors, etc. And out of that sit-in, in President Sowle’s office in Cutler, as well as other movements, emerged BSCPB.”

Years later when the founders came back and visited BSCPB, they were shocked that the organization was alive and well. They thought the university shut it down. 

“They lost their minds when they saw our office, the support that we get from the university, that we’re one of the three largest lump-sum funded organizations,” Chunnu-Brayda said.

Today, there are 13 executive board members and a solid 40-50 people at the general board meeting. Depending on the program, attendance can increase as large as 80-100 people. The executive board meets on Monday at 6 p.m. in the Multicultural Center and the general board meets on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Multicultural Center. BSCPB does 60-70 programs a year and co-sponsors programming with over 80 organizations on campus. 

The biggest events BSCPB hosts are the OU Sibs Weekend concert and the Blackburn Spencer Scholarship Pageant.

“By numbers, (the biggest event) would be the concert because we usually sell out MemAud,” Chunnu-Brayda said.  “But, in terms of longevity, impact, etc., it would be the pageant because from the pageant…we give out 10 scholarships at the leadership gala in the spring every year.”

BSCPB has brought notable names to campus throughout the years, such as Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, Waka Flocka Flame, T-Pain and others. 

“We've had pretty big names and one of the great things about our concert over the years, we've just been really lucky, is we've always managed to secure these artists right when they're on the cusp of becoming famous,” Chunnu-Brayda said.

Blackburn Spencer Scholarship Pageant was named after notable black figures in the university, like Donald A. Spencer, who was the first African American to serve as chairman of the OU Board of Trustees. Students fundraise by selling grilled cheeses, hot dogs and setting up GoFundMe’s. The money raised goes to the scholarship and is given at the leadership gala in the spring. 

“The motto of the scholarship is students helping students,” Chunnu-Brayda said.

DeMarje Hogan, a sophomore studying communication studies, is the archivist on the BSCPB board and has thoroughly enjoyed being part of BSCPB since he came to OU.

“My freshman year, I didn’t know anybody…some upperclassmen suggested me to come to this organization specifically just because the retention rate was unbelievable,” Hogan said. “They had general body meetings last year where the whole room was filled so it was like you’ll get to know everybody pretty fast. I participated in the scholarship last year myself and it was a great experience.”

Honesty Thomas, a senior studying English, and the president of BSCPB could feel the organization’s presence on campus when she came to OU her freshman year. BSCPB has given her many opportunities she is happy to see other members get as well through the organization.

“It’s amazing to see the impact and programs grow year after year and I’m blessed to be a part of that growth,” Thomas said. “I’m so fortunate to be a part of an organization with such a rich history of fight and triumph. It’s amazing to see how BSCPB has grown and is still around after all of the ups and down, due to the culture of the university when BSCPB was first organized.” 

Some of those opportunities BSCPB members can take advantage of are the plethora of workshops they provide, such as advertising and resume building help. Looking forward, Chunnu-Brayda thinks BSCPB will only prosper. 

“We're on all the social media platforms, which we didn't have before because there wasn't a social media,” Chunnu-Brayda said. “And so as our generations continue to evolve, and the way that we communicate continues to evolve and even our programming as a board, we evolve as well, because we want to make sure we're staying on the cutting edge of our programming, as well as the way our students get that information.”


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