Written by Ella Duryea | Graphic by Cooper Turman
Black students attending Harding University in 1968 formed the social club Groove Phi. Fifty-three years later, the Black Student Association (BSA) will pay homage to the original members of Groove Phi with a ‘60s themed celebration today, Oct. 29.
Junior BSA secretary Janae Bradshaw said she is looking forward to the fellowship and fun that awaits with the celebration happening today.
“We are marketing to clubs and campus organizations and inviting them out because we want to unite with them,” Bradshaw said. “Though there was an element of exclusion in ‘68, we want this to be seen as another step forward.”
Bradshaw said she hopes this event will unify different groups of people across campus.
“We want to have a good time with everyone and invite them to experience the Black Student Association,” Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw said she hopes that after Groovy Phi, people of all races and backgrounds will feel welcome to be a part of the BSA. Junior Nicole Savage said she is eager to attend Groovy Phi after seeing all the work going into the event — and the curated ‘60s-themed playlist being created.
“[Attendance at Groovy Phi] would be a really good show of support and show the BSA that we stand the work they are doing,” Savage said.
Furthermore, Savage said she believes the event will be characterized by a unique atmosphere of community.
“It will be a great time to commune with each other and have the opportunity to make connections with people you might not otherwise get to meet,” Savage said.
Junior Halle Miller, public relations officer for the BSA, came up with the idea after a friend sent her an article from the Arkansas Historical Society detailing the original members of Groove Phi and their experience in the first years of integration. Original members of the Groove Phi couldn’t afford the social club dues and were not permitted to play in intramural sports: This was a way to fight the feeling of isolation with the creation of community.
Groovy Phi is a celebration of how far the Harding community as a whole has come while also bringing attention to how the University got here, and the history that lies in the formation of Groove Phi. Miller designed this event to honor Groove Phi and the resilience of the original members.
“All are invited, and all are welcome,” Miller said. “For anyone that feels like they don’t have a place on campus, we want them to know that BSA could be that place for them. [A good turnout would mean] that we are supported by the Harding community and that other people stand behind our message of unity. It would mean that we are no longer in a place where people feel like they don’t belong because of the color of their skin.”
Groovy Phi will occur tonight, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. in Cone Chapel.