EDITOR’S NOTE: Reflection from the former Student Body President of Eastern Kentucky University, Eyouel Mekonnen.

It is the pride and joy of my college career to have served the Student Body as President. It is an honor to be the first Black Student Body President in more than 40 years. 

However, I did not accomplish this alone. It takes a village to have success, and with that, I am grateful to have been so heavily supported by these Black women. None of this would’ve been possible without Tamera Crutcher, Star Robertson, Britany Bowens and Tajane Graves. 

I celebrate the hope that this year has ushered in a new era of Black leadership. In the words of Maya Angelo in her 1983 Caged Bird poem:

A free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wing

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn

and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

If anything, I celebrate the hope that we can create a diverse and inclusive equitable campus.

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