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Inaugural Black Alumni Weekend Set for April

Signature Events Will Include Outdoor Festival, Black-Tie Gala and Brunch

By Karen Shih ’09

Riggs Alumni Center exterior

The inaugural Black Alumni Weekend, which will be held April 22-24, will give Terps a chance to gather with classmates and enjoy being on campus.

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle

Let’s face it: Many people are looking for opportunities to gather with old friends these days. That’s why the University of Maryland Alumni Association is hosting the inaugural Black Alumni Weekend (BAW) April 22-24, uniting Terps across generations to not only reminisce about the past but pay it forward to new generations of students. Registration opens today.

“A lot of Black alumni haven’t come back to UMD for a long time, and we wanted to create an opportunity for them to reunite,” said Black Alumni Network President Cassie Duah ’05. “I’ve talked to older alumni who have wanted to do this for years, so it’s great to see it come to fruition.”

The BAW Steering Committee, a group of Black Terp alumni volunteers chaired by Duah, have helped to plan three key events that will anchor the festivities. Saturday kicks off with Terpchella, an outdoor, family-friendly festival that will feature alum artists on stage as well as Black Terp-owned businesses. That evening, the Gift of Giving Gala, in partnership with the Student Success Leadership Council, will bring together students, alumni, faculty and staff to present scholarships and awards. Alums will close out the weekend with a Shell of a Brunch on Sunday.

“Many people have asked me, ‘How can I give back and connect with Black students?’ That’s why we’re doing the black-tie gala. People can donate to the Student Success Service Leadership Scholarship to support current and incoming students,” Duah said.

The original BAW was supposed to be in Spring 2020. But with the pandemic putting large, in-person gatherings on hold, the committee instead pivoted to a series of preview events in 2021. Say It Loud: A Black TERPspective featured an online panel of influential UMD alums and students, including 1970s Terp Bobby McLeod, the first Black Student Union president, Saba Tshibaka ’21, co-founder of Black Terps Matter, and former NBA star Walt Williams ’92. Terpscape: A Virtual Night of the Arts featured alum musicians, dancers and spoken word artists, and CinemaScape: Terps Under the Stars was an outdoor movie night featuring food trucks and drinks at a Black Terp-owned bed and breakfast, the only in-person event.

“The weekend is about celebrating the achievements of Black alumni, and to create a reunion program for the more than 25,000 Black alumni of the university,” said Erica Lane, manager of alumni volunteer programs for the University of Maryland Alumni Association.

For Duah, the road to the inaugural BAW has been long, but she’s happy to have laid the groundwork to make it a regular event in future years. “It’s definitely a labor of love. I love my Black Terp alums, and I’m so excited we’re able to finally make this happen!”

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