FMO hosts ‘Back to Black,’ first-ever weeklong series of events

Junnie Kwon, Assistant Campus Editor

For the first time starting Monday, For Members Only is spearheading a weeklong series of events, “Back to Black,” inviting the Northwestern community to celebrate black history and culture with themed events until Friday.

Ryan Arrendell, member of the FMO coordinator’s cabinet, said she came up with the idea for a spirit week late Fall Quarter after noting the excitement surrounding FMO’s annual black family reunion event. The purpose of the series is to provide a lively space for everyone to bond while learning about black culture, she said.

“This is an opportunity for students just to release stress that they may already have accumulated from courses and get to interact with each other in a space outside of class,” the Medill senior said. “To learn from presentations and hear stories from alumni and just be carefree.”

After witnessing the excitement that a rope-tugging competition inspired at the reunion event early Fall Quarter, Arrendell decided to bank on NU’s competitive spirit and make it an element of the series. She also wanted to extend the events to the entire campus after finding a lack of community-building activities hosted by NU cultural groups, she said.

The events will be driven by a competition among graduating classes. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors are each assigned respectively to Kuumba Lynx, Infant Welfare Society of Evanston, Little Black Pearl and Off The Street Club. The winning class will receive funds to donate to its assigned charity.

Individuals can win points for their class by attending events and following the dress code for each day. To receive credit for the latter, participants must take a photo of themselves and post it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #BacktoBlack and tag FMO on Twitter or Instagram.

April McFadden, incoming FMO coordinator, said she participated in similar events in high school and is looking forward to seeing the fellowship this series will bring to campus.

“There’s a saying that you have to look back in your past to see your future,” the Medill sophomore said. “This will give us a time to look at black presence on campus in history and will help us look forward.”

The series will kick off with “Movement Monday,” which features discussion with African American studies professors on black movements that range in topics from social to artistic. However, McFadden said she is most looking forward to the next day’s event, “Throwback Tuesday,” a barbecue and Q-and-A session with alumni in collaboration with the Black Alumni Association.

“There’s photos in the Black House from ages ago, and I’ve seen some of those,” said McFadden, who plans to wear a ‘90s windbreaker for the event. “It would be great just to look at some of those and ask them questions because it looked like they had a great time.”

On “Wild Out Wednesday,” FMO will celebrate widely publicized moments in black culture, such as Dennis Rodman dressing up in a wedding dress to promote his autobiography. The day will conclude with a “Battle of the Classes” on the Foster-Walker Complex lawn at 5:30 p.m. The week will come to a close with “Turn Up Thursday,” which offers late-night bowling, and “Philanthropy Friday,” honoring NU cooks, custodians and shuttle drivers.

Tarik Patterson, FMO vice coordinator for external relations, said this series will be a chance for FMO to extend a welcoming hand to students outside of the organization.

“You are free to identify with as many communities as you will, but hopefully you’ll feel like a part of the FMO family,” the Weinberg senior said.