News and Events
The Fridley High School (FHS) African American Student Union (AASU) presented at the 4th annual Cities United Black History Month event on February 22, 2019 at North Hennepin Community College. Their topic, Connecting Cultures Through Diversity, focused on establishing deeper understanding of the cultural background of oneself and others. Students explained that making these connections can widen perspectives, limit misconceptions and prejudice, and help society find commonality and mutual understanding.
The Fridley AASU led three breakout sessions on the topic, presenting to over 300 students, community members, and local education and government leaders. Students encouraged the audience to speak to each other on their definitions of diversity and culture, as well as share their personal experiences and opinions about these topics.
They also spoke about how communities can build culture and diversity by providing opportunities for community members to form new connections, facilitate discussions, and promote inclusivity and openness. Through these processes, people can start to realize and acknowledge their similarities as much as their differences.
“We wanted to speak about something that means a lot to us,” said FHS senior and AASU Vice President Jamia Johnson. “It’s important to understand different cultures, as well as your own. Forming this mutual understanding is a way to build unity within communities. Even though we all walk different lives, we want to teach and encourage others to find connections.”
Fridley Middle School Family and Cultural Liaison and AASU advisor Aloda Sims said she is proud of the work that the students are doing to promote positive change.
“This was an excellent opportunity for our students to be leaders and educate their peers,” said Sims. “Our club is student-led - and I’m here to advocate for them and let their voices be heard. I want to push them out of their comfort zones and encourage them to speak about things that are meaningful to them.”
This was the second time that the FHS students hosted a session at the Cities United Black History Month event - they presented on “microaggression” in 2018. Sims said she and the club were honored to be asked to return to the event to lead another presentation.
FHS senior and AASU President Safia Hussein said AASU has been a club where she can find comfort and feel supported. Through guidance and encouragement, it has also served as an outlet to find her voice. “It’s been a real journey for me to start to speak up about issues that matter to me,” said Hussein.
Sims added that empowering students to embrace their voice is her main objective. “When our students leave high school, I want them to be confident and sure of themselves - they know they can make a difference. That’s my goal. These children are our future - and it’s my job to help to cultivate the power that is inside of them.”
Celebrated in February, the annual Black History Month event is hosted in collaboration with the City of Brooklyn Park’s Cities United Program, National Forum for Black Public Administrators and My Brother’s Keeper - Brooklyn Park. The event also featured performances from local artists, a networking luncheon, sessions on uniting leaders for change and more.