The OUWB chapter of the Student National Medical Association is holding a first-of-a-kind event throughout the month of February to celebrate Black History Month.

Student org celebrates Black History Month by featuring Black-owned restaurants
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President of the OUWB chapter of SNMA Adel Andemeskel (left) and Secretary Oyin Akinpelu show the baked goods from April's Famous Bakes of Waterford. It was one of three Black-owned businesses featured by the student organization in February.

The OUWB chapter of the Student National Medical Association is holding a first-of-a-kind event throughout the month of February to celebrate Black History Month.

The event is a three-week long series where each week the organization highlights a local Black-owned restaurant. The food is purchased using SNMA’s budget.

SNMA Vice President Camila Joy Ramos says she came up with the idea after seeing how other medical schools celebrate Black History Month.

Held in the student lounge of OUWB’s O’Dowd Hall, Ramos described it as a “social experience.”

“Students come in and get the food,” she says.

“We talk, we mingle, we tell them about the different Black-owned businesses. It's a social thing to help bring our community together.”

The three Black-owned restaurants in the spotlight are: Savannah Blue in Detroit (Feb. 10), April’s Famous Bakes in Waterford (Feb. 17), and Flavors of Jamaica in Pontiac (Feb. 24).

SNMA President Adel Andemeskel says they chose those restaurants from a list of Black-owned businesses they found from WXYZ-TV Detroit.

“We picked a couple restaurants from that list,” says Andemeskel. “We just really liked them. They were also very friendly and willing to work with us.”

Ramos adds that they wanted to offer the community a variety of different foods.

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April's was featured on Feb. 17. 

It started with contemporary northern soul food from Savannah Blue, continued with baked goods, and wraps up on Feb. 24 with Caribbean-style foods.

Andemeskel says they hope to give more awareness to not only these restaurants, but all of the Black-owned businesses in the Metro Detroit area.

“With every restaurant, on top of purchasing the food, we also asked if we can get any promotional materials from them that we could showcase during the event,” Andemeskel says. “We also have a QR code on our flyer for that long list of over 600 Black-owned businesses on there…we wanted to raise awareness for these restaurants on our campus.”

Andemeskel says the measuring stick for this event’s success is attendance.

“This was actually one of our biggest turnouts,” she said. “It’s been a really successful event for us.”

Ramos says that spreading the word about these businesses also leads to success.

“Even just telling our classmates and faculty about different businesses, I think is a success because now they know of places that they can go to on a whim,” Ramos said. “So just telling them about these places is a big thing for us.”

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Andemeskel says the event makes sense for a school of future physicians because becoming a doctor is about teamwork and connecting with the community.

“These events take you away from the studying and science behind medicine that we can sometimes have tunnel vision with, especially in our preclinical years,” Andemeskel says.

“Because life and medicine and becoming a doctor is much more than that. It is about connecting with the community around you,” she adds. “These events help you remember that and reflect on that and helps you connect with your peers as well because becoming a doctor is a teamwork activity.”

Ramos says that it’s important to celebrate the achievements of these businesses so they can one day tell their patients about them.

“I also think it's really important to celebrate not only our own achievements, but also the achievements of different cultures, backgrounds, and how far everyone has gotten to get to this point,” Ramos says.

“And hopefully, maybe one of these people will be our patient and so then we can even connect our patients with each other and tell them about these businesses that we support.”

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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