The Black Student Association (BSA) of Oswego High School was founded in 2017 by Ms. Shaunise Thomas, who has been the leader of the BSA since its founding. The Association is open to all students who wish to learn about Black tradition, its cultures, and important events in Black history.
Today, there are around 40 students in the BSA, yet unknowingly to most students, not all of the students are African American. For context, in the beginning of the BSA, it was seen by students as the “Black Club,” exclusive only to African American students at OHS. However, today there are numerous students of the BSA who are different races
The Black Students Association was made open for people who did not have an open relationship with Black culture due to the minority of Black population in Oswego High School. The BSA allows for a place where Black students can feel a part of their culture, and Thomas is there to teach students about Black culture while being in a predominantly white region.
“It has been very difficult to open up [to] people to learn about things that they didn’t because we’re the minority here,” Thomas said.
The BSA has evolved throughout the years, starting with a few dozen students, working with the district office and others in order to teach students and staff awareness of Black culture into the classrooms. Non-minority students have become more aware of race in the classrooms and minority students have found a place where they feel welcomed in a school where they could often feel left out.
“Because feel like they are not a part of the school, they’re segregated, in a sense,” Thomas added.
Oswego East’s Black Student Association was founded by Thomas’s cousin, a year after Thomas had started Oswego’s BSA. Due to the relationship between both BSA sponsors, Oswego East and Oswego’s BSAs have had a very close relationship since their conception.
In previous Black History Months, the Black Student Association has done celebrations of life, a dinner with the members, and honoring Black students who are on the Honor Roll or High Honor Roll. The BSA also had a program with influential speakers with an inspirational message to give to the students in the BSA. Due to COVID-19 and time restraints, a speaker was not available this year, with it being the second year not having it.
There have been online meetings instead with leaders and speakers from the NAACP. Higher importance in online meetings has allowed for the Oswego East and Oswego Black Student Associations to join together in a virtual jeopardy game this month. This year, the OHS BSA also virtually attended a Black Teen Leader Summit, where they were able to speak to people with stories similar to theirs.