Elon University graduate student JaRiah Morris spent her Friday morning in McKinnon Hall, listening to speakers and enjoying lunch at the ninth annual Black Solidarity Conference. 

But for Morris, it was interacting with students and community members that made the conference special, especially as a graduate student at Elon.

“I hope that people walk away with another level of appreciation for Blackness in general, there's so many facets to the culture,” Morris said. “It was amazing, it was necessary for Black students and not Black students, and it was appreciated.” 

Throughout the conference, attendees were able to attend a keynote presentation by Alex Bohannon ‘17, student-led roundtable discussions and a mocktail hour. The social hour included a photobooth, food and live music performed by the New Orleans Second Line Brass Band Procession.

Bohannon addressed attendees to kick off the day. As the founding president of the Black Student Union at Elon, he spoke about his own experience starting BSU as well as his experience being an undergraduate student at Elon.

“I really do believe that in order to know where you're going, you need to understand where you've been,” Bohannon said to attendees. 

During his time in BSU, he stressed that students focused on not just what was happening on Elon’s campus, but also nationally. 

“A rising tide lifts all boats when it comes to eradicating oppression,” Bohannon said. “It can't be done in a sort of isolated vacuums.” 

Sophomore Ariana Galloway, a member of the logistics and hospitality teams, said the parts of the conference she enjoyed the most revolved around community and education, for both herself and attendees. 

“Having my friends here with me, they also learn and we also grow from that, especially with this being the Black Solidarity Conference,” Galloway said. “As Black people, we can learn from that, and definitely apply that to our education.”