Ten years ago, ABAC (Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College) had programs such as “Brother to Brother” and “Sister to Sister” that were formed to positively boost the retention, success, and graduation of its African American students. Although such programs eventually lost funding, a student-led club with a powerful name of Individuals Making Progress Achieving Change Together or “IMPACT” was officially formed on February 1, 2020, with the purposes of promoting and increasing minority student involvement on campus and throughout the community.
Furthermore, the club seeks to promote diversity, unity, and awareness among the ABAC community through various fundraising activities, community service, and insightful social, cultural, and educational programs. So, why would such a club be important to Black History Month and our Stallion community?
According to Nyshanti Ross, the president of IMPACT, “IMPACT wants to serve as an echo chamber for voices that often go unheard. We strive to be the change that we want to see on our campus.”
With an admirable declaration of service, IMPACT has successfully worked towards becoming this echo chamber through programs such as Culture Shock, which occurred as one of the main Black History Month events on February 24th.
Culture Shock brings awareness to the life experiences that many minorities on campus must face not only outside of the college but also here on the college campus. Such programs are important not only to open blind eyes to subjects such as a lack of diversity and unity, but to also give insight on how campus life can be positively reformed to accommodate students of all backgrounds as opposed to a select few.
Compared to last years Culture Shock, the number of attendees increased. There were roughly 45 people attending, including those who attended on the livestream on Teams that was available. The variance in attendees increased as more administrators participated in the event among the students. This increase in participants, whether student or administrator, would have seemed to make the open conversation aspect a bit tense. However, it did not affect the discussion as some straightforward comments were made.
When discussing the overall feelings from 2020 and its many events during Culture Shock, attendee Jachi Fletcher said, “2020 really let me know where I and the black community stand with the world…It’s like saying that you are an ally with the Black Community was just a trend.”
He went on “That really made me upset because it’s like my life isn’t only important when it’s trending on Twitter, you know what I’m sayin’? I shouldn’t only be protected during Black History Month like no that’s not what this is.”
Such thoughts and feelings were expressed at Culture Shock across many subjects. For instance, on the topic of mental health in the Black Community, an officer of the club and event attendee Tayler Staley stated, “If we don’t break the cycle, how we are feeling today is how our children are going to feel.”
Alongside Culture Shock, IMPACT puts on other events such as Trivia Night which occurred on February 18, Open Mic Night, and a few movie nights to show a positive representation of entertainment in Black America and facilitate a safe, open space for the discussion of what it means to be Black in America.
Many Black History Month events IMPACT has put on so far are praiseworthy and notable because IMPACT has executed more Black History Month events since its beginnings in 2020 than those that occurred a few years before. However, the goal to bring cohesive inclusion and diversity does not stop with Black History Month.
IMPACT has been working alongside other clubs to highlight other important months such as Women’s History Month in March and Diversity Month in April. This club is working to build an increase of participants who seek to be the change we all long for with undeniable support and a forward momentum.