We are so excited to annouce that our president, Jarvis Pashon Benson, has been selected as a Rhodes Scholar Finalist! As a member of not only the Croft Institute of International Studies but also the Sally McDonell Barksdale Honors College, he has spent the vast majority of his college career studying culture. This past spring, he was able to study abroad in Puebla, Mexico where his lingual skills develop and cultural aptitude soared. This is an immense accolade for Jarvis and an incredible marker of his intellect and character!
Our organization’s President, Jarvis Benson, addressed the organization during The State of the Black Student Union. This meeting serves as the organization’s annual “interest meeting”. The organization was able to get an understanding of his leadership as well as his direction and plans for his presidency this year. Below, view the address.
“Why do we use the raised fist? In America, the raised fist has become the major symbol
of “black power” most widely used by the Black Panther Party in the 1960s. Activist Stokely
Carmichael notes that “Black Power means black people coming together to form a political
force and either electing representatives or forcing their representatives to speak their needs.”
But the statement of political power was not always well received. Tommie Smith and John
Carlos were stripped of their gold and bronze medals after they gave the salute at the 1968
Since then, that fist has continued to be a symbol of solidarity and defiance in the face of
injustice. But what does this fist have to do with the history of the University of Mississippi,
specifically, the Black Student Union? The fist has an incredible legacy, most pertinent to our
organization. And this legacy lives. A few years ago, the Clarion Ledger did a piece on Dr.
Donald Cole and his rough history at this university.
“On the evening of Feb. 25, 1970, Cole and half the black students marched onto the
stage during a concert at Fulton Chapel and raised their fists into the air. The demonstration was
the culmination of two years worth of demands from African Americans that the university
recruit more black students, faculty and professional staff, and to address acts of harassment
from their white peers and hostility from employees of the university.”
That was 48 years ago. Since that moment, black students and faculty alike have made
strides on this campus. We have black faculty and professors. We have black leadership in the
Lyceum. We have the Center for Inclusion for Cross Cultural Engagement. We have had ASB
Presidents, Homecoming Queens, Senators. We have several intersectional organizations that
cater to students of colors. And we have fought and continue to fight to do away with
confederate symbols that litter our campus.
This year, I want to focus on how can we use strength behind our fists to build and pick up the
pieces of this institution rather than continue to tear it down. And I believe this is comes with the
task of transforming the systemic issues that face our state and campus. These are issues like
black counselors, reviewing recruitment of students of color, wages of student workers, funding
for emergency student housing, and more scholarships, especially for women of color.
We want you here. We want you studying. We want you active. But most of all, we want you
comfortable. We want you supported and sane. We want you to be black, magical and joyful as it
-Jarvis Benson, Black Student Union President