Black Student Union Celebrates Black History Month

In commemoration of Black History Month this February, Sidwell’s Black Student Union (BSU) planned events throughout February, from speaker panels to student meetings.

On Feb. 16, for example, the BSU invited Black alumni to share their experiences at Sidwell in a panel called “Black in the Day.” Another panel hosted recent Black graduates who spoke about their experiences in college and the college admissions process.

The BSU also utilized the display case outside of the Upper School Library to post information and graphics about important Black people in Sidwell’s history and key Black figures in American culture.

The process is very awe-inspiring to see the whole production come together, to see everyone pull through.

— Sophie Valbrune '23

In addition to hosting these events and regular lunch meetings, BSU has begun planning for their spring BSU show on May 19, which focuses on themes of self-love, embracing Blackness and Black excellence. Both Lower and Middle School students were invited to perform in the show for the first time since the pandemic began.

Sophomore Isabel Dower reflected on watching the annual BSU shows throughout her time at Sidwell.

“In the Lower School, my favorite assembly was always the BSU show,” Dower said. I loved seeing the upperclassmen, and the dances were so special,” she added.

As the spring musical, the BSU has access to many school resources for its production.

“We get to use tech, we get to build sets, we get to hold auditions and we get to do everything a normal play would do, which is pretty exciting for us,” said senior Sophie Valbrune, a BSU club head.

“As for the theme of this show, we are focusing on going back to an older model of the performance,” Valbrune said. “We are going to be doing vignettes, short scenes of things that relate to being Black and being a student, which is a deviation from the past few years since we lost our director freshman year,” she added.

Notably, the BSU show is known for its welcoming environment for actors of all skill and comfort levels. “We don’t cut anyone. We just bring everyone in and ask what they can do … We figure out what everyone is comfortable with,” Valbrune explained.

“[The show] doesn’t seem finished until the last day. And that puts everyone on edge, but the process is very awe-inspiring to see the whole production come together, to see everyone pull through, to see that one kid who always forgets his lines remember it and I think that’s kind of the magic of the BSU show,” Valbrune concluded.