BCC Cookout event gives Black students community


Randall Spriggs

Students and BCC staff fellowship in the Black Cultural Center in the O’Connell Building, Tuesday, April 5, 2022, on DePaul’s Lincoln Park Campus.

By name alone, the word “cookout” evokes a picture of good food, music, and celebrations with the community. DePaul’s Black Cultural Center (BCC) delivered all that and more with their final Welcome Black Week event, The Cookout.

This event followed a week of activities hosted by the BCC including a Black Student Union (BSU) meeting, the BCC Open House, and the Kickback event. All these events were geared towards welcoming both returning and new students to campus and building connections between Black students at DePaul.

On Friday, Sept. 30, the Cookout gathered students on the Quad in a party that tied all of these events together in a celebration of Black culture. Many students who attended said they felt they were missing this sense of community because DePaul is a predominately white institution (PWI). 

Between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., students rolled in with hopes to relax after a long week, hang out with friends and meet other Black students.

From the music that generated energy all through the evening, to the large amounts of free food and open seats, the Cookout began on a solid note with students of all ages meeting and finding conversation through shared experiences.

Winnegold Gyimah-Boakye said she attended the event in its entirety. She said from the second she stepped onto the Quad, she already felt more connected to the Black population at DePaul.

“These events are so important for getting together with other people similar to you because it establishes a sense of community,” Gyimah-Boakye said. “It also allows us to meet people like ourselves which makes being at a PWI feel less isolating.”

Only 9.4% of DePaul students are Black or African American, according to IRMA. Coupled with the fact that many DePaul students commute, BCC and BSU events are some of the only environments that are curated specifically for Black students.

Noku Katsande also attended the event for its entirety and said curating spaces like what the Cookout presented Black students is extremely important.

“There are just so few of us here that often it feels we are surrounded by people who don’t look like us,” Katsande says. “Being around Black people just feels nice and makes DePaul feel closer to home.”

The Cookout was complete with a bounce house, yard games and a dance floor that became increasingly more popular as the event progressed. Eventually all of the students shifted to the dance floor. Well-known songs like “Before I Let Go” and “Swag Surfin’” got students to start large group dances like the “Electric Slide”.

For many students, these moments bring a piece of home to a campus in a big city allowingstudents who were once strangers to become much more familiar with one another.

Marlee Feacher, a transfer student majoring in acting, said she still finds it important to step outside of the conservatory-style school and attend these events.

“I think it’s important to host these events for Black students at PWIs because we can be separated by so many things in school: by major, by grade level, race, ethnicity,” Feacher said. “Coming together as Black people is really important so that we can support each other and be there for each other because we all have universal experiences in which we can learn from each other.”

The BCC Cookout brought together undergraduate and graduate Black students dancing, food and sharing a common culture. Several students also stuck around after the event ended to continue conversations and discuss their hopes for the rest of the year.

“I would love it if there were more cookouts, but [I would] also [like] game nights and sport days,” Katsande said just before leaving.

To attend future events the BCC coordinates, more information can be found on their Instagram page: @bccatdpu.