November 30, 2023

untitledOver Alumni Weekend, Concerned Black Students (CBS) partnered with upcoming non-profit organization, The Conscious Connect, founded by alumni Karlos Marshall and Moses Mbeseha, class of ’13, to throw the first annual Party with a Purpose.
Located at the Katmandu, a low-key venue on Route 40, students from Wittenberg, Wright State and the University of Dayton gathered to support the cause — to restore the essences of Black communities and the nuances of Black culture.
The Conscious Connect started nine months ago and was born of “a need to give back to the community,” Marshall said.
The event was a fundraiser as well as the launch of Blacks in the Akademy, a feature of The Conscious Connect, and a book drive for its first community initiative called The Root.
Blacks in the Akademy, based on the idea that “it is important to bridge the gap between current students and alumni,” Marshall said, and was created to get “like-minded individuals to network.”  The effort is a cross-campus one, with the involvement of multiple universities from around the Springfield-Dayton area.
“It’s essentially creating a platform for years of sustainable leadership within the Black community,” Mbeseha said, linking students with mentors and peers who’ve had similar experiences. The old, the young, student and alumni showed up to network to donate books.
Of paramount importance was the discussion of The Root, an innovative initiative that seeks to establish Black barbershops and salons as community centers by implanting culturally relevant libraries in them for youth. Marshall emphasized “the power of the barber position,” which can foster learning and community and awareness of self and culture. The Root recognizes barber shops and salons as places already apt to create culture in the Black community.
“You can be an educational resource,” Marshall says of barbers and hair-stylists.
The hope is to “take back ownership of Black culture,” Marshall said.  The initiative is a grassroots one, focused on upward mobilization. The Conscious Connect board asks “what resources does the community already have,” Marshall said, and they work with that.  Currently, The Root is partnered with seven barber-salon sites in the Springfield area and is also gauging interest in the Dayton area through surveys. The plan is to have books distributed by mid-December.
“It’s not about us; it’s about the kids,” Marshall said, as he spoke to the party.
Admission for students was $10.

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