MSU’s Black Student Alliance

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With so many examples of injustice and racism plaguing our world today, many have felt the need to step up to be the positive change that people need. Some students here at Michigan State University have done just that with the Black Student Alliance (BSA).

Formed in 1969 during a time of great racial tensions, the Black Student Alliance is a student-run organization here on MSU’s campus. Their mission includes unifying the black community with knowledge and support in order to help uplift one another.

“[BSA is] not just focusing on the issues, but how we can move forward from these issues,” said Myya Jones, president of the Black Student Alliance.

Hosting programs, discussions and protests throughout the academic year and beyond, they work closely with various faculty and staff to help ensure that a positive change is brought about both on and off campus.

An event like the Black Power Rally, an annual event that was hosted in November earlier this year, is just one example of work that BSA does.

Staying current to new issues going on, this year’s Black Power Rally focused on technology and how to go “beyond the hashtag.”

“A lot of people don’t realize that social media is beneficial to activism,” BSA Social Media Director, Tierra Nelson explained. “You made a hashtag, you tweeted, you used social media but what’s next?”

The Black Power Rally showcased student talent with skits, songs, spoken word and student speakers. The event was very moving and informational, even going so far as to bring in Elaine Brown, a widely known activist and former chairman of the Black Panther Party, to close out the show.

In addition to the Black Power Rally, the Black Student Alliance also hosts events such as local marches and paintings on the Rock to show solidarity for various issues both local and national, like the Ferguson riots last year and the Mizzou protests earlier this year.

However, BSA isn’t just a group for the black student body at MSU. They also say that in order to truly move forward as a whole, they need the support and help of all students.

“We can’t effectively make any type of changes if we don’t unite,” said Vice President Kelsi Horn.

To contact BSA, feel free to email them at You can also follow them on Twitter (@19BSA69) for updates on programs and events throughout the year.

Famous Black Alumni

Myrtle Craig – 1907
Class of 1907, Myrtle Craig received a Bachelor of Science in home economics. The first African American woman to graduate from Michigan Agricultural College, President Jonathan Snyder praised her as a young woman “of more than ordinary ability,” “considerable dignity” and “good sense.” Craig chose a career as an educator, serving on the faculty of Lincoln Institute in Jefferson City, Missouri for more than 20 years. In 1990, Michigan State University established the Myrtle Craig Mowbray Scholarship in her honor. (Taken from MSU Archives)

Class of 1916, Gideon Smith was an exceptionally talented athlete, becoming one of the first two black college football players in the country and one of the first to play professional football. At Michigan State, he also served as secretary and treasurer of the Cosmopolitan Club. After serving in World War I, Smith joined the faculty of Hampton Institute in Virginia as football coach and professor of physical education from 1921 until his retirement in 1955. He was named to the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1992. (Taken from MSU Archives)

Ernest Green – 1962
Ernest Green was a member of the historic Little Rock Nine, the first group of black students to attend school at Little Rock Central High School. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts at Michigan State, and then returned to get his master’s in sociology. Green is still an active member of the MSU community, and he frequently visits to help with local events.

Jemele Hill – 1977
Jemele Hill is a female sportscaster who graduated from Michigan State University in 1977 with a degree in journalism. Hill has worked with major news organizations including the Detroit Free Press, and currently holds a position with ESPN.

Vence Bonham – 1978
After graduating in 1978 with a degree in social science, Vence Bonham has become heavily involved in the field of medicine. He now resides as a senior advisor at the National Human Genome Research Institute of Health and is also co-chair of the Health Disparities and Community Engagement Team of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers Directors Planning Committee.


Tyler Austin is a senior journalism and Spanish major with a concentration in editorial reporting. He longs for a life in the Big Apple where coffee dates with Beyoncé are a weekly occurrence. In addition to writing for ing he also writes for Men’s Fashion in VIM.


Tags: February 2016