United Black Students, Black History Month Black History Month
Empowering African American students

For more than 52 years, the United Black Students organization has been an active member of the University of Miami community 

by Ashley A. Williams
UM News

Seniors Nia Byrd and Kyra Freeman are continuing the traditions of one of the most historically rich organizations on campus: United Black Students (UBS).   

The pair share the title of president of the student organization, and they create programming dedicated to uplifting and empowering African American students on campus. Freeman, a major in public health with minors in Spanish and health sector policy and management, said UBS was the reason she enrolled at the University.  

“When I was trying to decide what school I wanted to come to, part of the reason why I ended up choosing UM was because I love the black community here,” Freeman said. “We are small but its very close-knit, which is great for me.  

Both Freeman and Byrd have been members since their freshman year. Byrd, a double major in English and film studies, said UBS gives her a chance to recharge when situations on- and off-campus may arise.  

 “I’ve dedicated my entire college experience to this organization, to the people it connects to, to the friendships it’s created, she said.  

Founded in 1967 by Harold Long, UBS has been a true pioneer of change at UM. As the first black organization on campus, its members held a sit-in in the Ashe Administration Building in 1968 to gain attention to minority needs, which later resulted in more scholarships for minority students.   

“UM administrators [are] always asking us what we need,” Freeman said.  

Byrd added, “UM as an institution is above the mark in creating spaces for minorities and disenfranchised groups.”  

Black History Month takes on different meanings for the co-presidents of UBS. To Freeman, it means dedicating a month to finding out about someone from the past who has contributed to society that she had previously not known about. She is using this month to read books written by black authors. For Byrd, the month is a chance for her to breathe.  

“It’s not just about the events, it’s not just ‘ours’,” she said. “Even though during this month we can see an increase in the negativity or small-mindedness, it’s a chance for conversation.”  

Freeman is a member of the Iron Arrow Honor Society and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She also serves as a resident assistant for Housing and Residential Life, and is a public health student ambassadorwhich has provided her the opportunity to intern at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention by way of Morehouse College.  

Byrd, an aspiring filmmaker, has dedicated most of her time in various departments on campus. She currently works at The Rathskeller and as a security supervisor for Housing and Residential Life. 

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