Food for the soul: a homestyle meal students can enjoy

Courtesy of Christian Bernard. Taylor Hopkins, president of BSU (far left), stands beside her fellow BSU committee members as well as two chefs from Parkhurst, all who helped make the night a sucess.

Mary Liz Flavin | news editor

Oct. 21, 2021

Pans of mac and cheese, yams and pulled pork lined a table in a buffet-style set up as students gathered to the Africa Room in the Student Union to take part in a soul food celebration. 

On Sunday, Oct. 17, Duquesne’s Black Student Union (BSU) hosted “Swingin’ Soul Food Sunday,” a dinner that kicked off the organization’s Black Cultural Awareness Week. 

Soul food is a cuisine that originated in the mid-1960s when the word ‘soul’ was used to describe African-American culture. According to Britannica, the term was first used when many aspects of African-American culture were celebrated during the rise of “Black Pride”,including soul music for their contribution to the American way of life.

Re’Naye Waklatsi, vice president of programming for BSU, said she was excited to be a part of the event. She got to collaborate with the other members of BSU. Together, they came up with the idea of a soul food style dinner. 

“It’s like we are all hosting the event because we all bring something to the table,” Waklatsi said. 

Waklatsi said that members of BSU came in a little earlier before the event’s start to check in with one another making sure they were all in the right headspace. She said it “made her heart warm” to see her friends attend the dinner. 

“I liked it most because I got to meet those who cooked the food and more often than not, we don’t get to talk to people behind the scenes,” Waklatsi said. 

BSU was able to team up with Parkhurst Dining Services and create a full meal for the estimaded 25 students in attendance. Options included mac and cheese, chicken, yams, collard greens, cornbread, pulled pork and peach cobbler, an overwhelming favorite of BSU members. 

“It was awesome, especially the vibe, everything was really well done,” said Eric Swain Jr., BSU’s vice president of community and engagement. “The food was really good.” 

Rose Reyes, a member of BSU, said she enjoyed the food and her friends beside her. 

“We’ve gone through a whole Duquesne experience with these people so it feels like being around family,” Reyes said. 

According to executive vice  president Lindsey Harris, the event brought forth a feeling of community. Harris said that she “loved the fact that this is happening in the first place.”

“It’s nice to see all these Black people together — I love it,” Harris said.

BSU president Taylor Hopkins was thrilled with the event, the first of celebrations for Black Cultural Awareness Week. 

“It was a successful way to start off the week and I think this event went very well. This was a good start and a great way to bring people together,” Hopkins said. 

Other events included in Black Cultural Awareness Week were The Power of Black Hair with guest speaker St. Clair Detrick-Jules; Black Business Expo featuring a variety of Black businesses from Pittsburgh; and Black Music and Art Appreciation: A safe space for students to appreciate Black art. Students can learn more by attending these events.