By Madison Heiser

Photo courtesy of the Black Student Association

The Tyler Junior College Black Student Association was formed in 2009 as a support organization directed toward the African American community and culture. The BSA is open to students of all races and continues to operate on campus with the objective of providing a historical and cultural view of the African American race, according to the organization’s OrgSync page.
BSA adviser Erica Thurman discussed the organization’s goals and background.
“We stand to enhance the African Diaspora with a mission and purpose of promoting campus involvement, doing community service with the school and community or wherever needed,” Thurman said. “The Black Student Association is a group that stimulates our students’ intellectual, political, cultural and social growth.”
Thurman said the BSA currently has 32 active members and meets every Thursday over Zoom to discuss current events on campus and find community service activities. The BSA hosts various events such as mental health talks, scavenger hunts and TikTok challenges. According to Thurman, the BSA also focuses on academic success and has attended several leadership conferences and college campus tours for students.
Praise Thomas, president of the BSA, discussed the significance of Black History Month to BSA members.
“This month is very important to us because it’s an opportunity for us to grow more as an organization and learn about ourselves and others,” Thomas said. “A continued engagement with history is vital as it helps give context for the present. Black History Month is an opportunity to understand Black histories, going beyond stories of racism and slavery to spotlight Black achievement.”
Thurman added honoring Black history and achievement no longer has to be done in one month, suggesting TJC could incorporate Black history by partnering with the Black History Museum of Tyler, inviting African American officials to discuss their journeys into office, and inviting Black TJC alumni to speak to students. Thurman said educating students about Black history allows people of different backgrounds to “come together to share not only what makes us different, but that which draws us closer.”
For more information about the BSA and their activities, as well as ways to join, contact Thurman by email at Students can also visit the BSA’s OrgSync page at