How BFSA is revamping scholars bowl for Black History Month

The Black Faculty and Staff Association will host the Black History Scholar Bowl Competition on Feb. 27.

In an effort to showcase students’ scholarly knowledge of Black history, UA’s Black Faculty and Staff Association will partner with UA’s Division of Student Life to host the first-ever Black History Scholar Bowl Competition between area universities at the end of the month.

Organizers hope the competition will also build community and strengthen connections between universities and colleges across Alabama.

We want to strengthen the relationship between the schools and brush up on our Black history,” said Chad Jackson, BFSA’s president, CEO BFSA Executive Board and the diversity, equity and inclusion council chair for the College of Continuing Studies.

The hybrid event is a part of the University’s annual Black History Month Celebration and will have both virtual and in-person components. The competition will include not only students from The University of Alabama, but Alabama State University, Alabama A&M and Stillman College. The students will compete for a grand cash prize and a traveling trophy. 

“We decided to name the bowl after Trudier Harris who is a distinguished research professor in the English department at UA,” Jackson said. “She has written many books on African diaspora and is an HBCU graduate. One of the mandates that I wanted to make sure we emphasize is that we need to celebrate people in the Black community before they die.”

Students will be tested on their knowledge of a variety of Black History topics including current events and African American history, authors, political figures and activists, African kingdoms, the pre-transatlantic slave trade, reparations and school integration. 

The bowl will be divided into four rounds, with the first three rounds being “face-off” rounds between the schools. 

“When we were looking at our annual programs, we realized we didn’t have anything that was a scholastic competition. Another one of the reasons why it is important that this becomes an annual event is that African Americans are always contributing to American culture,” Jackson said. “We still have the line of ‘the first Black this’ or ‘the first Black that.’ As long as that is a surviving prefix, there will always be a need to make sure we keep those successes ever before us.”

Registration for the competition does not close until Feb. 1. In order to compete, a school must have a team consisting of five members: one captain, three teammates and one alternate. 

At this point, there are already 14 teams currently registered under The University of Alabama. These teams will go through mini pre-competition rounds to determine which one will represent the University in the bowl.

The questions in each of the categories will be vetted by multiple faculty members including Utz Mcknight, Chair of the UA Department of Gender and Race Studies. 

Each school will also be given the opportunity to submit questions for the different categories. 

“This competition is not exclusive,” Jackson said. “We want anyone who is interested to apply.”

Currently, the event location is not determined and will be reevaluated based on COVID-19 guidelines. To learn more about The Inaugural Black History Scholar Bowl Competition and BFSA, check out their website: