MISSOULA – The University of Montana’s Black Student Union kicked off their first ever Black Solidarity Summit on Saturday.

The event will last two days with representatives from black student unions, African Student associations, and Black Studies programs around the Northwest addressing issues of racial discrimination, political disenfranchisement, and social organization. Black academic enrollment, retention, and recruitment at their respective campuses will also be discussed.

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the Black Studies program at UM. The program at the university began in May of 1968, making it the third oldest in the U.S. Former UM President, Robert Pantzer, hired the program director that founded the group, Ulysses Doss, who began the program after being approached by students.

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“We’re moving in a really great direction. I’m excited to see, you know, what the next 50 years brings. It was started by some really awesome people and I’m just so honored to be part of a legacy like this one,” said Meshayla Cox, the Event Programmer for Student Involvement Network of the Black Student Union.

Organizers hope that people will leave this year’s summit with a new perspective and more knowledge on the subjects they hope to discuss.

Reporting by Lauren Heiser for MTN News