Get on the BUS: A new photo gallery open at Oscar Ritchie Hall

Kent State graduate Jennifer Cline and her 3 year-old son, Kwadwo Cline, attend Timothy Moore’s picture exhibition, “Get on the BUS: A Pictorial of Black Student Protest at KSU,” at the Uumbaji Gallery of Oscar Ritchie Hall on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016.

Hana Barkowitz

Get On The Bus: A Pictorial of Black Student Protest is available for viewing at the Uumbaji Art Gallery in Oscar Ritchie Hall until March 3. The exhibit features pictures from recent BUS protests, such as the die-in on the Risman Plaza, as well as past BUS events, such as when Kwame Ture, a civil rights activist, visited Kent State.

Many alumni returned for the gallery opening reception to hear Tim Moore, an emeritus associate professor from the Pan African Studies department, give insight on the photos.

Ralonda Ellis-Hill, who graduated from Kent State in 1993, minored in Pan-African studies. She returned as a graduate student and received her masters in public administration in 1995. She also served as BUS’ publicity chair during her time as a student.

“Looking at these pictures, it’s good to see the people that were there,” Ellis-Hill said.”I think it’s important to tie back the role that this building (and) this department has played in the lives of African Americans over the years.”

From alumni to current students, the perspectives of past students are important and relevant to the future movements of BUS.

Isaac Floyd, current president of BUS, explained how he felt seeing the photos and how the photo gallery affects BUS today.

“It was an honor for our organization, it definitely gave some perspective seeing the parallel between the activism from the past to the present,” he said.

Floyd says that BUS alumni deserve input on the future of the organization.

“Talking to the BUS alumni and legacies and seeing the work and seeing the concrete change, seeing the diligence of activists provides perspective that what we’re doing really makes a difference,” he said.

Floyd and Moore agree that it is important to recognize the history of Pan-African studies and BUS at Kent State in order to ensure that the campus makes change and progress.

“In some ways things haven’t changed, but in a lot of ways, things have changed,” Moore said. “The things that haven’t changed are tied into a saying by (the English philosopher) Herbert Spencer. This saying defines everyone on the campus, especially in academia, in regards to Pan-African studies. Their principle is proof of the ignorance, the principle is called contempt prior to investigation. They have held contempt toward this program without even looking at what we were doing. Making judgments about us and black students, just because they were black.” 

Moore says this is why it is vital for every Kent State student to take a class in the Pan-African studies department.

“Students don’t know when they’re walking around on campus and they don’t even come into this building,” she said. “And even if they come into this building and don’t take classes from this department, they come out just as ignorant about us and other members of diverse communities. That should never happen and that is a travesty of education.” 

Hana Barkowitz is a diversity reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]