Samisha Elysee, a junior accounting major at the State University of New York at Oswego, is committed to addressing systemic injustices and creating positive change, especially through engaging and educating her fellow students. She leads her peers and organizes cultural events such as Black History Month celebrations through the Student Activities Planning Board and the annual ALANA (African, Latino, Asian and Native American) Student Leadership Conference. She has also developed her own cosmetics business that caters to the Black community; a group which the market often overlooks. One specific way Samisha has impacted and supported the community is through the creation of the Black Excellence Tour. Samisha partnered with another student to develop a program that highlighted the accomplishments and contributions of the Black community. During fall Welcome Week, over 200 students participated in a five part scavenger hunt across campus, stopping at locations that focused on black music, food, scientific and technological advancements, black wealth, financial literacy, and issues of cultural appropriation. Additionally, the program hosted local Black-owned restaurants and artists to display and sell their work. Samisha’s dedication to social justice and inclusion has contributed to a more welcoming, inclusive, and well informed campus community.
The Black Excellence tour was created to shed light on not just our plights, but showcase the accomplishments of the Black community. For decades the Black community has been depicted through tragic images that imply our lives do not matter. Combined with centuries of unfair laws and practices, it is easy to become discouraged. While every social justice situation requires a nuanced and balanced approach and while it is important to acknowledge hardships, it is also important to celebrate and elevate the accomplishments of the Black community. This was the goal of the Black Excellence Tour. My hope is that the Black Excellence Tour was just the tipping point of a larger, more collaborative and educational event I hope we can accomplish annually on campus and in the town of Oswego. After undergrad, I hope to finish my master’s program, complete the CPA, and tend to my own company. I plan to expand in such a way that I will have even more influence to invest into the black community’s affairs and work towards better corrective promotion, representation, and economic change for us.