The Daily Gamecock

Office of DEI holds ceremony for 18 new bricks honoring Black women at USC

<p>Three USC alumnae and interviews in the student documentary, "The Backbone," pose for a photo at the Horseshoe on Feb. 10, 2023. The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion revealed 18 new bricks in honor of them women that created the film.&nbsp;</p>
Three USC alumnae and interviews in the student documentary, "The Backbone," pose for a photo at the Horseshoe on Feb. 10, 2023. The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion revealed 18 new bricks in honor of them women that created the film. 

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion unveiled 18 new bricks at the Horseshoe on Friday in honor of Black women who have left a legacy at USC.

The ceremony was held to celebrate the 20 women interviewed for the USC student-created documentary, "The Backbone," a film about the history of Black women at USC from the university‚Äôs desegregation in 1963 to the modern day. 

"We wanted to demonstrate the positive contributions of Black women and do it in a permanent way," Lyric Swinton, production and distribution manager for "The Backbone," said.

Swinton made the documentary alongside team members Hannah White and Kendrick Lindsey.

The film was able to show students a new understanding of what a student-led project should look like, according to Toby Jenkins, thesis advisor for the documentary and one of the 18 women with a personalized brick.

<p>The women of The Backbone pose on the Horseshoe. Eighteen women featured in the documentary were honored with bricks that were unveiled at a ceremony that followed a private screening of the film on campus. &nbsp;</p>
The women of The Backbone pose on the Horseshoe. Eighteen women featured in the documentary were honored with bricks that were unveiled at a ceremony that followed a private screening of the film on campus.  

"To have the time that we spent and the energy that we gave to the university here remembered in concrete and in a pretty permanent way is really, really meaningful," Jenkins said.

Both Swinton and Julian Williams, the vice president of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion said there needs to be more of a focus on creating new spaces for representation.

"While there may be some limitations on what we can do for our existing spaces, we can always create spaces, we can create representation here at the university ... on behalf of not just African Americans but other individuals as well," Williams said.

Both Swinton and Jenkins have the desire to change the names of previously existing administrative buildings named after "racist" individuals, according to Swinton. They also agree, however, that efforts need to be focused on more "actionable" responses to get representation on campus.

Swinton said in the meantime, students need to focus on what they can change rather than what they cannot.

"We might not be able to fix the past, but what we can do is create a better precedent and a better future," Swinton said.

Swinton said she hopes the event and the bricks laid on the Horseshoe will inspire more students and the administration for "projects headed by minority students for the minority community."

"When I think of the indomitable spirit and will that each of our honorees has put into action during their time here at USC, all I can say is thank you. These bricks will show countless Black students at USC what is possible," Williams said. 

During the ceremony, Swinton said she hopes the ceremony inspires the university to do more and that the bricks are "the bare minimum." 

"It shouldn't of taken this long to put 18 women, Black women, on the Horseshoe, but they won't be the last," Swinton said. "This is a step in the right direction, but this is only the beginning."


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