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Black Student Union Hosts Ebony Dinner 2020

Georgian Court African American Students
Georgian Court Black Student Union
Kayla Wilson, president of the BSU Executive Board (left), and Shana Rayside (right)

The Georgian Court University Black Student Union will host an “Ebony Dinner” on Thursday, February 27, at 7:00 p.m. in the university’s historic Casino building. The event, held each year during Black History Month, draws students, faculty, and staff—as well as family members—of all races and backgrounds. Organizers consider it an opportunity to share in cultural pride. 

“The GCU Black Student Union strives to make a difference within GCU. It is a haven for all students and staff who encourage unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, purpose, creativity, and faith,” said BSU executive board president Kayla Wilson, as she referenced several of the principles of Kwanzaa.  

Black Student Union Honors Culture of Achievement

The Black Student Union event goes beyond honoring historical African American leaders. Instead, students and faculty mentors include emerging artists, campus talent and contemporary leaders in the program lineup. The keynote speaker for the evening is L-Mani S. Viney, a veteran educator, national youth advocate, and sought-after speaker on issues of systemic and structural systems of inequality in class, education, and culture among communities of color.  

GCU BSU speaker 2020
L-Mani S. Viney

From 2011 to 2016, Mr. Viney served as the Fraternity’s National Guide Right Chairman, charged with leading more than 400 youth mentoring programs under Kappa Alpha Psi. Under his leadership, Guide Right was recognized as one of the nation’s leading youth leadership programs for young men of color in America, resulting in an increase in the number of Black men attending college and awards of over $35 million in scholarships. Mr. Viney, now the executive director of the Kappa Alpha Psi Foundation, is the featured guest speaker for the Ebony Dinner.

In his role as executive director of the Kappa Alpha Psi Foundation, Mr. Viney leads innovative programming to help inequality gaps in education, class, and health—especially as it affects boys and men of color, as well as Black communities. The Black Student Union chose him as their 2020 speaker because of his track record of achievement and encouraging excellence among young people.

The 20-year teaching veteran and Boston College alum was named one of the top 25 Black History Makers Now by the Black Men’s Dossier and served on Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s African American Leadership Council. Plus, he worked with the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for African Americans under President Barack Obama and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement.   

As Mr. Viney shares on LinkedIn, it all comes down to having a positive impact. “Impact matters,” he wrote. “Nothing more. Nothing less.” 

Showcasing Creative Expression

The Ebony Dinner program includes a range of participants. GCU social work senior and photographer Joshua Tinto ’20 is preparing poetry and a video presentation exploring “What it Means to Be Black at GCU.” In addition, guests will hear from The Young Picassos, a popular trio that blends Caribbean sounds with other musical styles. The group is gaining popularity across New Jersey and on college campuses throughout the northeast.  

Georgian Court African American Students
BSU members Dashawn Lamar-Baldwin (left) and Kennedy Omari (right)

Black Student Union members designed the dinner program to be a meaningful experience people will enjoy and remember. 

“As an organization, we thrive on unity and dignity,” said Kayla Wilson, the GCU Black Student Union president. “It is our mission as members of the African American community to be educators to our own and to promote knowledge and solidarity.”

For more information, contact ofh@trbetvna.rqh.  

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. GCU is a comprehensive, coeducational university with a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women. As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 2,100 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 15 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates also make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings. The main campus is located in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students at other locations, such as GCU at BrookdaleGCU at Rowan College of South Jersey–Cumberland Campus, and through multiple online certificate and degree programs.

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