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AASA to celebrate 50th anniversary

AASA members plan to celebrate their 50th
anniversary. Photo courtesy of AASA

AASA members plan to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Photo courtesy of AASA

AASA members plan to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Photo courtesy of AASA

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The University of South Alabama’s African-American Student Association is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year with a luncheon in the Student Center Terrace room on Feb. 22, according to AASA president Chelsia Douglas.

This event will give AASA students the opportunity to dine with AASA’s founder, Dr. James Kennedy.

Founded in 1968 as the Black Student Union, AASA serves over 4,000 students on campus, according to Douglas.

“I am so honored and so appreciative to serve an organization that has so much history, so much purpose,” Trey Ruffin Johnson, AASA’s co-director of outreach, said. “For us to still be here 50 years later says so much about the organization, its founder and every student that has been apart [of AASA].”

Both Douglas and Ruffin Johnson place great value in AASA’s purpose. Douglas transferred to USA in 2016 from a university that had no African-American organization, despite having a large African-American community.

“Just having a way to communicate with my brothers and sisters is very important to me,” Douglas said. “It’s important for us to stick together and say, ‘You can do it!’”

AASA’s outreach efforts aren’t limited to on-campus students. The organization was involved with an event known as Black Girls Rock, where two $1,000 scholarships were awarded to young black women in the Mobile charter system on Feb. 2.

“Black Girls Rock exemplified the beauty of being a black woman,” Douglas said.

Douglas aims to restore AASA’s original mission of serving African-American students through a year-long celebration of the organization’s 50th anniversary.

Douglas and Ruffin Johnson are excited to share AASA’s 50th anniversary with USA students.

“It’s important for us to get back to our roots and purpose,” Douglas said. “Stay tuned. We’re back, bigger and better than ever!”

Douglas believes that AASA is important to African-American students in transitioning to university life as well as in providing a sense of community and belonging. Ruffin Johnson also believes in the student organization’s purpose and importance.

“AASA encompasses everything that it means to be black at a predominantly white institution,” Ruffin Johnson said. “It means being proud of who we are and [of] everything that our ancestors went through for us. It means striving to make an impact on the lives of those who come behind us. It means leaving a legacy! AASA means doing it for our culture.”

Douglas and her cohorts have big plans for the organization’s future, beginning this year.

“Somewhere throughout these few years we’ve lost sight of our purpose as a student organization,” Douglas said. “We’re not just a party organization. We are here to act and be a voice for AfricanAmerican students.”

AASA has weekly meetings on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. in the Student Center Terrace room.

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AASA to celebrate 50th anniversary