Spencer Hamilton noticed a lack of solidarity among Black creatives at Temple University.
Hamilton, a senior psychology and Spanish major, felt a magazine for Black students to showcase different art forms and express themselves would leave an impression on the Temple community.
“Art does something to uplift people in a very individualistic way, and art is a medium that I feel everybody can have an experience with,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton is the founder and editor in chief of EMPOWERED, the Black Student Union’s new monthly online magazine that will provide a platform for Black students to showcase their art. The first issue, which Hamilton expects to publish by the end of the semester, has an “empowerment” theme.
“I felt BSU has the potential to have a campus-wide impact and have a presence on campus that really empowers the Black students at Temple,” said Hamilton, who is also BSU’s newsletter chairperson. “The reality is we are at a [predominantly white institution] and for some people, it’s really hard to navigate that space when there’s so many racially charged factors that influence your experience.”
He added he hopes contributors will explore racial identity, sexuality and politics through creative submissions like fiction, poetry, journalism, visual art and personal anecdotes about the Black student experience at Temple.
The works can explore the positive and negative experiences faced by Black students at a predominantly white institution and how students have navigated being in that space, Hamilton said.
Magazine contributors will attend workshops before the release of every issue for feedback on their work. Other BSU executive board members are collaborating with Hamilton on the publication. They are also looking to hire a graphic designer.
Lauren Smith, the president of BSU, said she was ecstatic to hear about the magazine when Hamilton first pitched the idea. She believes it communicates BSU’s overall message of community solidarity.
“Our whole mission is just being a safe space for people to talk about issues in the Black community, so I think this just puts them on another outlet,” said Smith, a senior geography and urban studies and Africology and African American studies major.
She added the magazine will allow BSU to branch out in ways it hasn’t before.
The magazine will replace BSU’s newsletter, The Jamii, which means “community” in Swahili. Hamilton said the name of the newsletter was beautiful, but he thought the magazine needed a more unifying name to target students outside of BSU.
Kourtney Thompson, a senior advertising major and former BSU president, said she is proud of the magazine.
“BSU is kind of known around the world as an organization who looks to empower Black people across the globe,” said Thompson, who is a current BSU member.
She added that naming the magazine EMPOWERED is extremely fitting because part of BSU’s mission is to empower Black students on campus.
For Hamilton, the new project represents his larger goals for the organization.
“Being able to come together and have this sense of unity in the community, I feel like that’s what I really strive for,” Hamilton said. “I hope that I can do that with this magazine.”