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U of M campus group promotes Black sisterhood

Black Motivated Women - or “BMW” - is a student group at the University of Minnesota that supports Black women on the Twin Cities campus.

Black Motivated Women was established in 2006 to promote sisterhood and professionalism within the U of M student community.

BMW holds regular events, a majority of which fall within the student group’s four pillars: health, education, culture, and service. BMW’s annual fashion show, which is one of its largest events of the year, raises money for various causes in Minnesota.

Board Vice-President Zaynab Ahmed said that being around other Black women at BMW events makes her feel safe. She said, at a predominantly white institution, there aren’t that many spaces where Black women can feel comfortable.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, BMW hasn’t been fully in person since March 2020. This has brought financial challenges for the group as they begin to once again pay for food and rental spaces for programming. Frequent bake sales have helped them fundraise. Board President Venus Olenchak said that these experiences have taught her how to remain calm and flexible.

As they move into the summer with a new board, Ahmed and Olenchak said they hope to see BMW expand and reach out more to the Minneapolis community, creating a sisterhood for Black women that does not start and end while they’re at university.

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