Black Student Union

Natalie Corona, Writer

The Black Student Union is a student organization set up this year that provides an environment for students to become educated on Black history and the value Black people have on our society. It’s an area that allows you to be yourself and create connections with fellow peers. 


One of the administrators of this club is Mrs. Brumfield, who is in her second year here working at Downey, but has nine years of experience teaching. Brumfield taught World History last year but currently educates Downey students on Ethnic Studies and U.S. History. Brumfield wanted to create a place where students can feel connected which led to her current position in the Black Student Union. “BSU didn’t exist in my high school back in the day so I wanted to make sure something like this was opened for all students…to create community within Downey,” Brumfield said. 


Ms. Wilkenfeld, an ASL interpreter, is another administrator. 2023 is Wilkenfield’s tenth year working at Downey High School. Wilkenfield is trying to help foster a place for them to be because a lot of places don’t have a place just to be you—having the expectation of being this student, having to be this person, etc. “It was just a thing that people wanted somewhere to be”, Wilkenfield stated. “The goal for BSU is to give them a place just to be themselves and to give them background on how they become this person.” 


Mr. Hollington is the third person in the administration team.


Kelis Batson, 12, is the president of BSU. Batson plans to study business and marketing for two years at Cerritos and then transfer to Clark University—a historically black university and one of the first in the Southern United States. Batson strives to be an entrepreneur and hairstylist and own her own business in that department. Batson believes that Downey High School is very diverse, but not everyone hangs out with each other and tends to stay in groups that are similar. “I just wanted to bring everybody together and be a family even though we come from different styles and different foundations growing up,” Batson said. “We can still unite as one and love each other.”


Jazmine Striklenmen, 11, and Natalia Jones, 11, are secretaries of the Black Student Union. Jones plans on going to college and getting a degree in Kinesiology at HBCU. Striklenmen is debating on whether to be a pathologist or an English or History teacher. When it comes to where, Striklenmen is debating between studying at NYU, UC Berkeley, Boston University, or Howard University with the goal of going to France her junior year of college. Striklenmen decided to take the position of secretary because she enjoys writing down notes, planning, and collaborating with other people to create ideas. Jones enjoys the secretary position because she can plan events and come up with ideas to make the club more fun. They define the goals of the BSU as bringing everyone together; to have more of a sense of community on the campus since some kids feel they don’t have a space to go to. To Striklenmen, her favorite part of the Black Student Union is the members, “Even outside of the club, when we do see each other outside of campus, we say hi,” Strinklenmen said. “The people in the community and the club make it really supporting and heartfelt.” For Jones, she appreciates that she is around those to who she can relate. “Being able to be surrounded with other people who have similar experiences to me and memories,” Jones stated. “Having a sense of home and family in a really large school.”


BSU meetings typically consist of a daily affirmation in the beginning, an information session about a Black individual or an event that impacted Black people, and activities or games. Not too long ago, both Black Student Unions from Downey and Warren went to a Black University expo in which they helped their students send resumes. That day, 13 students were immediately accepted to some of the universities they applied to.


BSU meets up every other Thursday at B110.