The Black Experience at Kent State

Courtesy of Kasia Gibbs, Senior Fashion Merchandising major.

Felicia Guadagni

Kent State is home to more than 27,500 students.

However, the undergraduate ethnicity profile breaks down to only 13 percent minority students. Included in that 13 percent are the 1,949 African-American undergraduate students who attend Kent State, according to the university website.

February provides a platform for black history to be remembered, honored, taught and learned.

Throughout this month, eight prominent African-American students on campus will share their experiences as black students at Kent State and the meaning behind Black History Month.  

Marvin Logan

Imagine being the student body president of Undergraduate Student Government (USG) at Kent State. Now imagine being a black male student body president at a university with a student body profile comprised of mostly white and female students. That is how it feels to to be Marvin Logan.

“I have a story of tragedy and triumph. Being a black male is difficult, let alone being president of student body at Kent State,” Logan said.

Along with being student body president, Logan is also an opinion columnist for The Kent Stater, an executive producer of TV2’s “The Exchange” and a host on Black Squirrel Radio.

As a senior Pan-African Studies major, Logan feels he is responsible to the community to continue to serve and blaze trails like the ones that came before him.

“I carry a torch for my peers (…) for the younger students and the younger children I grew up with,” Logan said.

Logan sees Black History Month as a time to continue to carry that torch. He explains that February provides an opportunity to learn, teach and honor black history.

“Anybody can be a full participant. We may strive, but we have a lot of progress to make,” Logan said. “We need to continue to make black history a conversation.”


Kasia Gibbs

“Sometimes I’ll be out somewhere, and someone will hear me speak and be like ‘Oh! You’re really smart for a black girl!” said Kasia Gibbs, a senior fashion merchandising major, who is no stranger to issues concerning minority groups. As a black student at Kent State, Gibbs has experienced race discrimination on campus and around the town.

“I’ve noticed a lot of police intervention when it comes to parties,” Gibbs said. “Predominantly black parties get shut down before midnight, but frat parties get shut down at 2 a.m. I see that as a race issue.”

However, with Gibbs’ involvement in the Modista Fashion Group, she is helping to bring awareness to minority issues within her chosen field of study.

“The group brings awareness to diversity within the fashion industry,” Gibbs said, “Whether that be with plus size issues or people with minority status, and gives them a chance.”

While reflecting on Black History Month, Gibbs said that for her, the month represents the celebration of the legacy of black people in history.

“It’s about learning things that you wouldn’t already know about black history — different achievements — and not just all the black movies playing on TV,” Gibbs said. 

Contact Felicia Guadagni at [email protected].