Learn more about student groups that illuminate the Black experience

Students cross the University Center Rock Plaza on the Coral Gables Campus. Photo: Jenny Hudak/University of Miami
By Jenny Hudak and Ashley A. Williams

Students cross the University Center Rock Plaza on the Coral Gables Campus. Photo: Jenny Hudak/University of Miami

Learn more about student groups that illuminate the Black experience

By Jenny Hudak and Ashley A. Williams
Black History Month, or Black Awareness Month, may be coming to an end, but there are plenty of organizations on campus you can support or engage with throughout the year.

In 1967, the United Black Students was the first Black student organization to become formally recognized by Henry King Stanford, the University of Miami’s third president. Today, dozens of groups exist at the University across multiple areas of interest and focus, connecting Black students to academic, professional, and social support systems that help them excel. 

As Black History Month, also known as Black Awareness Month at the University of Miami, comes to a close, here are some student organizations that support and celebrate the Black student experience year-round.

100 Strong

The purpose of 100 Strong is to cultivate a culture of belonging by fostering academic, social, and professional development of students of color pursuing careers in health care. The group aims to provide tutoring and peer mentoring, serve the local community through a series of projects, and engage in activities that will nurture and strengthen the professional and leadership development of its members whilst advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the health care field.

Learn more about 100 Strong on Engage.

Above the Bar

Above the Bar is a multicultural organization for pre-law students to ensure their successful matriculation into law school. Its mission is to educate, elevate, and demonstrate ways to thrive with the tools, forum, and platform necessary to aid students as they prepare for law school and beyond. The group focuses on LSAT preparation, financial readiness, networking, and workshops to hone students’ strengths when applying to law school.

Jordan Farrell, president and founder of Above the Bar, is a junior studying criminology and political science. She started the association last year when she realized the University lacked one that supported minority students with aspirations to pursue law degrees.

Anyone interested in learning more about Above the Bar can visit its Engage page or follow the group on Instagram.

African Students Union

The African Students Union (ASU) at the University of Miami exists to raise cultural awareness and knowledge of the current issues that face Africa. The ASU strives to provide insight into the incredible cultural diversity throughout the African Diaspora. 

The organization also acts as a representative for African students at the University. The ASU works to bring a sense of community and family by providing a home away from home for African students. The group aims to always connect and engage with and serve not only African students, but the entire University community.

Kikiloreoluwa Aderoju, a senior studying journalism and international studies, serves as ASU president.

“ASU has provided spaces for me to be my truest self. It has also given me the chance to educate people about the culture in so many ways, spreading that joy to so many people over the years,” she said. “ASU has given me some of my best friends, mentors, and amazing opportunities, and for that I will always be grateful.”

Students can get involved in many ways—by joining the group’s general body meetings or evenapplying to join its executive board.

Learn more about the African Students Union and how to attend a general body meeting via its Engage page. Follow ASU on Instagram for updates.

Black Student Athlete Alliance

Michelle Atherly, president and founder of the Black Student Athlete Alliance, was inspired by other student-athletes on other college campuses to create the first Black Student Athlete Alliance group at the University of Miami. The mission of the alliance is to create a strong unified community that supports and empowers Black student-athletes. Through education, conversation, and action, the group challenges the leaders of the University to support Black student-athletes outside of sports.

“This Alliance seeks to build a safe space that is inclusive of gender, class, race, and sport in order to unify and educate. We have a vision of providing a safe space that brings the Black community together in pursuit of strengthening our ability to represent and serve the Miami community,” said Atherly, a track and field graduate student-athlete.

Anyone interested in attending meetings can follow the alliance’s Instagram account and fill out the Google form located in the bio. Meetings are held biweekly, alternating between Mondays and Fridays. 

Black Student Leadership Caucus

The Black Student Leadership Caucus offers the opportunity for Black student organizations and leaders to voice their opinions about campus programming, event planning, effective leadership, and role modeling. Eighteen student-group leaders participate as representatives on the Black Student Leadership Caucus. They work collaboratively to host events that promote dialogues among students and the campus community. Its goal is to create a holistic experience that focuses on academic, professional, and personal success for Black students.

Read more about the Black Student Leadership Caucus and the groups that are involved on the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs’ website.

Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Led by senior Miles Pendleton, the Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is an extension of the United States’ oldest and largest civil rights organization.

Pendleton, who quadruple majors in criminology, sociology, political science, and Africana studies said, “As the University of Miami’s branch, our mission is to inform students of issues affecting our minority communities and help ensure fairness and equity for all students, regardless of identity. We strive to implement initiatives to educate, stimulate, and mobilize our community while simultaneously bringing our diverse community's constituencies closer together.” 

He also shared that one of the many things that makes this organization different from others on campus is that it serves a representative body, only to the extent that it represents collaborated pursuits of equity.

“While many identity-oriented affinity organizations conduct necessary work in furthering the voice, opportunity, and positive outcomes for their unique constituencies, the NAACP's identity is simply that of equity and progress. Initially founded by a group diverse across gender and racial lines, the NAACP intends to foster a diversified voice of advancement for all,” said Pendleton.

The best way to participate and get in touch with the group is through Instagram @umiaminaacp.

“We post announcements, events, and meeting information there,” said Pendleton. “Further, if there are ever any questions, please feel free to contact me at mrp151@miami.edu, and I would be happy to help.”

Brothers Overcoming Negativity & Destruction

Brothers Overcoming Negativity & Destruction (BOND) is a group that promotes the social, academic, and professional well-being of Black and minority men on campus. Kai Anderson, a senior studying international finance and marketing, serves as president of BOND.

“There are not that many places where Black men on campus can really come together, so we seek to facilitate that. In normal times, participation might be more hands on. But now, all getting involved really looks like is showing up to the events and making your voice heard,” Anderson said.

Since BOND is a networking association at its core, Anderson encourages anyone interested to reach out to the group so it can connect and continue to build a stronger community.

“I started to get to know a few of the older guys on campus who led the organization and realized they were really cool and had my best interest in mind by helping me navigate the college experience,” he said. “I also would not hold many of the leadership positions that I do in other organizations if I had not gotten my start through BOND.”

Anyone interested in learning more about BOND can visit its Engage page or stay up-to-date on virtual meeting times by following the group on Instagram.

Caribbean Students Association 

Charis Pitter, a junior studying political science and public administration, joined the Caribbean Students Association (CSA) during her first year. When she arrived at the University, Pitter was no stranger to the CSA. She grew up listening to anecdotes from her parents, aunts, and uncles about how they all met as members of the club in college. 

The CSA is dedicated to raising awareness at the University, and in the surrounding community, of the cultural diversity of all Caribbean nations. The student group exists as a representation of that diversity. It hosts various social events throughout the year to educate others about the Caribbean.

Pitter, who now serves as the president of the CSA, said she can’t imagine her college experience without the peers she met through the club.

“Many of my closest friends now are those that I met through CSA my first year. [Our] executive board operates like a family,” she said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I can’t imagine my college experience without this organization.”

Most importantly, Pitter added, the CSA serves as a support system for Caribbean students on campus. Members of the CSA usually attend Caribbean celebrations together as a group.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Caribbean Students Association can visit its Engage page or follow the group on Instagram.

Gravity Magazine

Gravity Magazine is the University's first student magazine dedicated to celebrating Black voices, experiences, and creative essence. Founded in 2020 by Julian Crosby, a sophomore studying motion pictures, Gravity Magazine’s mission is to spread joy and peace in Black communities. Through multimedia projects, it aims to educate individuals across demographics about the broad and sweeping influence of Black culture. According to Crosby, as founder, he wanted to create a space for fellow Black students to make significant art contributions in a comfortable and accepting environment.

“Through Gravity, I have been connected with the most enlightened creators I have ever met. I call them family now,” Crosby said. “We are bonded by our desire to establish a more accurate depiction of the Black experience in America, defined by our happiness over our trauma.”

Students can get involved by following Gravity Magazine on Instagram.

Hairology

Hairology is the natural hair hub at the University of Miami. The purpose of Hairology is to educate the University community and spread awareness about the diverse array of hair textures and types. Hairology aims to promote the acceptance of all hair in society and inspire individual confidence.

You can follow Hairology on Instagram @umiami.hairology or join via Engage.

Hammond-Butler Gospel Choir

The Hammond-Butler Gospel Choir is the University of Miami's premier gospel choir. The choir performs all types of Christian music and seeks to encourage a spirit of worship as it ministers to the University and local community. In addition to the choir community, the organization connects members and the University community to historical and contemporary traditions of gospel choir music in the United States and abroad.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Hammond-Butler Gospel Choir can visit the group’s Engage page, like the choir on Facebook, or follow it on Instagram.

Minority Association of Pre-Health Students

The members of the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students (MAPS) aim  to develop workable programs for the preparation of students entering health-related careers, sponsor programs for minority youth to encourage their entrance into health professions, and raise health career interests of African American, Hispanic American, Native American, and other minority/disadvantaged students.

To learn more about the organization, follow it on Instagram @umiamimaps.

National Council of Negro Women, Inc.

The National Council of Negro Women, Inc. was founded in 1935 by Mary McLeod Bethune to lead, empower, and advocate for Black women, their families, and their communities. At the University, the association creates impactful leaders through mentorship, education, and service with the assistance of the accreditation, rich history, and national network from their headquarters.

To be a Black woman is to face the intersectionality of race and gender daily. What sets us apart from other organizations on campus is that we expand beyond being an empowerment group and place an emphasis on community, education, and service. Our founder, Mary McLeod Bethune, set the standard, and our chapter continues to carry on her legacy as a trailblazer in American history,” said Jailah Williams, the founder and president of the University’s chapter.

Learn more on Engage and follow the organization on Instagram @umiamincnw for updates.

National Society of Black Engineers

The National Society of Black Engineers was created to increase the amount of culturally responsible Black engineers who can excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.

“We organize events that give engineering students a multitude of different areas of engineering they can go into with their major and plan volunteer events to introduce minority students in our community to STEM fields,” said Taylor Washington, a junior studying industrial engineering.

Students interested in the organization are able to join through Engage.

Planet Kreyol

Planet Kreyol is the Haitian student organization at the University of Miami, that has a mission to continually promote cultural awareness while servicing the community and preserving the ancestry of Haiti. The group hosts various events throughout the year—cooking workshops, church services, pageants, community outreach events, kompa dance classes, and Haitian spirit and cultural weeks—to connect with the University community.

The association serves as a place for Haitian students to gather and act as a support system for each other.

Laura Francois, a junior studying public health and French, is currently the president of Planet Kreyol. Her desire to spread awareness about the different aspects of her Haitian culture and genuine love for learning inspired her to get involved with Planet Kreyol as a first-year student.

“Planet Kreyol has taught me how to embrace myself and not be confined to the many negative stereotypes surrounding the Haitian population while inspiring others to do the same by spreading positivity and a strong sense of community,” she said.

Learn more about Planet Kreyol on Engage or follow the group on Instagram.

The Culture

The Culture is UMTV’s first and only show highlighting the Black experience on campus and worldwide. UMTV covers politics, sports, popular culture, current events, Miami news and more. This year, Jayda Graham and KiAnna Dorsey are executive producers of the show.

“Our organization is rooted in telling Black stories and perspectives,” said Graham, a  motion pictures major. “Whether they are unheard, happy, sad, or acts of injustice, we create a space for students to express their voices on these subjects,” she said. “Being a part of The Culture is more than being on camera, it is being part of a family. One that works together to support and help each other. Being a part of this show has been my home away from home. And my hope, as a producer, is to create that same home for members who want to join.”

Winston Warrior, the group’s adviser, is a double alumnus of the University. His passion for developing future communications professionals and leaders has compelled him to counsel this unique show.

“I see them continuing to evolve and reflect what their student community wants to see,” said Warrior. “I think The Culture has a bright future. It's so necessary to be able to turn on your TV and see students who look like you.” 

Interested in joining? Email cultureumtv@gmail.com, or follow the show on Instagram @umtvculture.

United Black Students

United Black Students (UBS) was the first Black student organization to be founded on the Coral Gables Campus. The purpose of the organization is to enrich  and provide the community with a source to experience Black culture and become more educated about Black heritage.

“Our organization's founders and advocates were essential to shaping the university as it appears today. From organizing protests, letters, and forums to standing up for racial justice, United Black Students has been a pillar of the university community for decades,” said Landon Coles, UBS president and Ronald A. Hammond Scholar majoring in political science in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Those interested in learning more about UBS are welcome to join its virtual general body meetings at 7:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month. For inquiries, email UnitedBlackStudents@miami.edu. To keep up with the organization, follow it on social media @UMiamiUBS on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And finally, join the group via engage.miami.edu to receive biweekly newsletters and other email updates.

Yellow Rose Society

The Yellow Rose Society recognizes a need for cohesion amongst women at the University of Miami. By focusing on peer education, community service and outreach, academic achievement, and leadership, the organization intends to bring about this unity through the efforts of its members and the entire student population.

Those interested in joining Yellow Rose Society should connect with president Kaylie Cohen via Engage.