OU Students Plan Big XII Conference on Black Student Government
Later this month, the University of Oklahoma will host the 43rd annual Big XII Conference on Black Student Government.
Scheduled for Feb. 20-23, this year’s conference is themed “Generation Us: Unifying Blackness Through Social Change,” and will see an estimated 500 to 600 students from around the nation attend.
Makayla Napier, a senior psychology major from Tulsa, Oklahoma, is serving as chairwoman for the upcoming conference after attending each of the last three held at Texas, Baylor, and Missouri. She has also served as a delegate in the past, meaning she attends Big XII Council meetings twice a school year, interacting with other black leaders from different campuses.
This council is a collective of the schools’ Black Student Associations and Black Student Unions and was created to aid students in navigating their time at predominately white institutions, Napier explained. The council also puts on the annual conference, which features various speakers and workshops.
“It’s really a black leadership conference where I like to say I can engulf in my blackness because for most people, you don’t see this many black people on one PWI campus,” Napier said. “It’s just that time to embrace our blackness, embrace our leadership, improve our leadership, and gain the knowledge and skills to go and help our schools, or if you’re a senior help you when you graduate.”
“It’s just that time to embrace our blackness, embrace our leadership, improve our leadership, and gain the knowledge and skills to go and help our schools, or if you’re a senior help you when you graduate.” - Makayla Napier, Chair for the 2020 Big XII Conference on Black Student Government
Miles Francisco, who is double majoring in political science and African and African American Studies with minors in women’s and gender studies and international studies, attended the conference for the first time last year and said he enjoyed networking and building connections with fellow students.
“The main thing about the conference that is the most powerful and beautiful and impactful for me is just the commonality that we have but also the diversity within the black community – diversity of perspectives, diversity of passions, diversity of knowledge and expertise, and diversity of identities – and how it is so incredibly diverse and fruitful and colorful in so many different ways,” Francisco shared.
The senior from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is helping coordinate speakers for the conference. The keynote speaker for the event is Angela Davis, a prominent scholar and activist. For Francisco, it was important to be as inclusive of the diversity of identities and experiences in the black community as possible through the various speakers and to give a spotlight to different voices.
Both Napier and Francisco have established themselves as leaders on OU’s campus. Some of Napier’s campus involvement includes Black Student Association, chapter president for the Kappa Alpha Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and as a McNair Scholar, which she said has been especially helpful for her as a first-generation student.
Francisco has been active as a student activist on campus, co-founding the Black Emergency Response Team, which looks to bring about structural change here at OU for the black community and marginalized groups on campus. He also works with the Gender + Equality Center and is the vice president for NAACP, to name some of his involvement. At OU, Francisco said he has discovered a strong community.
“There are really great advocates for black students here at OU, whether that is older student leaders here on campus but obviously staff as well as faculty members who are here to ensure that you have the best experience possible,” Francisco stated. “There’s a really strong, vibrant culture and community, and not to say that we don’t have our issues, but we work really well together. We just we want to see the best for one another … We are at a predominately white institution where we are a big minority group but still a strong minority here at OU, and we have a really strong voice and a place on this campus.”