Black Solidarity Day Officially Added to SUNY Plattsburgh’s Academic Calendar
SUNY Plattsburgh will begin observing Black Solidarity Day the first Monday of every November beginning this fall.
Black Solidarity Day will formally be designated a “teach-in day” for all on campus to teach, learn about and engage in discussions around diversity, equity and inclusion. The fall 2022 calendar has been updated listing Nov. 7, 2022 as the first official Black Solidarity Day.
Black Solidarity Day was created in 1969 by Panamanian-born activist, historian, and playwright, Carlos E. Russell. Inspired by the fictional play “Day of Absence” by Douglas Turner Ward, the day is now observed every November, on the Monday before Election Day.
SUNY Plattsburgh President Alexander Enyedi praised the “commitment and advocacy of our Student Association under the leadership of SA President Ahmed Metwaly,” which led to the addition of Black Solidarity Day observation and teach-in at the college.
‘A Great Accomplishment’
Also instrumental in the effort was Ohemaa Owusu-Poku, a sophomore from the Bronx who is majoring in political science with a minor in legal studies, was instrumental in this effort. A member of the Student Association Executive Board and coordinator of student affairs and diversity, Owusu-Poku acknowledged that "most things don't get recognized until the value is brought to light.”
“Black Solidarity Day is recognized, and I believe that is a great accomplishment,” she said. “It is time that we celebrate all students and appreciate the diversity and different cultures that they bring to the institution. I believe we will all be educated about the truth that has to be brought."
Mac-Olivier Lalanne, a senior political science major from Brooklyn, was also critical to this effort.
"Black Solidarity Day is important as it shines light to a long-standing issue of lack of acknowledgment of the BIPOC contribution to society/community and the need for action,” Lalanne said. “This is a great accomplishment, and this is a big step forward to something right. Black Solidarity Day in SUNY Plattsburgh should be acknowledged as a day of both action and education for students.
"I am proud of myself, Ohemaa, and Ahmed for our support and effort in accomplishing this feat, and I look forward to seeing how things will go with this in the future."
Metwaly, a second semester junior from Alexandria, Egypt, majoring in accounting and management information systems with a minor in political science, said he is "extremely proud of Ohemaa and Mac for all of their hard work on this initiative, which would not have been possible without them. This is a great step in the right direction and that we as a campus should be proud to be one of the first campuses to add Black Solidarity Day to our academic calendar."
Dr. Raymond Carman, associate professor of political science and chair of the faculty senate, said he welcomes Black Solidarity Day as a day to reflect and celebrate.
“SUNY Plattsburgh has a strong record of teach-ins on topics related to social justice. I look forward to the faculty senate working with the Student Association, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and others to make this a fantastic day of programming with broad participation across our college," Carman said.
Dedication and Hard Work
Black Solidarity Day was originally intended as a day for African diasporic people to discuss their political status and advocate for their rights to equitable access to education and social mobility. It has since evolved into an opportunity for the BIPOC community to exercise a 24-hour moratorium from commercial activities such as shopping and using the public transit system as a way to highlight their essential contributions to our economic sustainability and survival.
“I am grateful for the dedication and hard work that went into coordinating this important and highly valuable opportunity for learning, discussion and growth,” Enyedi said. “Black Solidarity Day at SUNY Plattsburgh will directly support our campus-wide commitment to create the most inclusive and equitable environment for all who study and work here.”