Prominent members of the black community welcomed incoming black students at the University’s first-ever Umoja Black Student Convocation at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre in the Michigan League last night.
In his closing remarks, Director of the Center for Afro-American and American Studies James Jackson said he looks forward to seeing the audience in 2006 at the black graduation ceremony.
“We must stride toward providing a positive environment,” Jackson said. “The incoming class needs to be aware if the resources at the University of Michigan.”
Plans for the convocation and Welcome Week events originated last spring when black student leaders came together during the Ujima retreat, Jarvis Williams, convocation coordinator said.
Engineering senior Jamal Daniel, one of the event’s planners said he was happy with the outcome of the night.
“When we were planning it, I saw a few things that needed improvement and planning, but they still worked out nicely in the program and hopefully we’ll make them better next year,” Daniel said. Faculty members were “more than willing to speak,” he added.
With support from upperclassmen, the night aimed to provide incoming students with a sense of community and unity at the University.
“It’s our desire that the students come out feeling they are part of both the University community and the black community,” Williams said. “Basically we want students to realize it’s only through coming together that we will succeed.”
LSA freshman Danielle Richards said the keynote address from Reverend Norman K. Miles was “very striking” because it made her aware of her status as a minority student.
“I thought it was really excellent,” Richards said. “It made me feel a lot more comfortable.”
Miles also made an impression of Business School senior Tiffany Haley.
Although Haley did not have the opportunity to attend such events when she was a freshman, she said she was happy to see students coming together.
“I would like to see more meetings like this just to reinforce to the incoming students just how strong and committed the black community is,” Haley said.
Sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Here Earning a Destiny for Honesty, Eagerness and Determination of Self, the National Council of Negro Women and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, the event was one installment of the University’s first Black Welcome Week. Other events planned include Black Professional Organization Day and Black Greek Day.

Paul Wong
ALYSSA WOOD/Daily
Reverend Norman K. Miles speaks to students at the Umoja Black Student Convocation last night as Senior Vice Provost Lester Monts and University President Mary Sue Coleman look on.

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