Marquette’s Black-Brown Get Down turns one 

A program that encourages community conversations and connection reflects on one year of collaboration with students of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds.

February marks the first anniversary of Black-Brown Get Down, a monthly student-led gathering designed to build community, cultivate cultural awareness and foster solidarity among students across racial and ethnic boundaries. 

“The Black-Brown Get Down was created out of the need to build a bridge between multiple communities,” says Tamra Keith, assistant director of peer engagement programs and services. “Our offices, which include the Office of Inclusion and Belonging, Educational Opportunity Program and Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, know how powerful the student voice is and simply wanted to help provide space for them to use their voices. Through these experiences, they are able to understand what they have in common and appreciate their differences.” 

Each month, seven student leaders gather to plan each event, picking a new theme for the community to discuss. 

“Working as a student leader, I’ve seen an increase in collaboration and the exploration of ideas,” says Bryant Ewing, a sophomore studying political science. “It’s the best kind of work to be with creative people who see possibilities because we have the determination and guidance to see our coolest ideas become reality.” 

The BBGD regularly has more than 75 students in attendance conversing about the challenges and joys of being a student of color. 

“After the events, people are always wondering when the next event is, so it tells me that we were able to make an impact on our audience, which is the sole purpose of our events,” says Raevion Piggee, a sophomore studying psychology. 

Despite being new, the BBGD has had a profound effect on students, offering a safe space to explore important topics related to life on campus and beyond. 

“I feel as if programs like the Black-Brown Get Down are extremely imperative at predominately white institutions,” says Piggee. “When we are experiencing imposter syndrome, loneliness, oppression, white supremacy and more, the Black-Brown Get Down opens up the space to have students be vulnerable, free of judgment and shame which is so beneficial to our mental health and well-being.”  

The program hopes to continue its success with strong institutional support and the commitment and excitement from students. 

The BBGD is hosted monthly at the 707 Hub and features food from local Black and brown owned businesses. Although the program is focused on the Black and brown community, it is open to students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.