Faces of Black Penn, a publication highlighting the Black student experience at Penn, is returning this semester, reviving a long history of platforms uplifting Black students' voices and achievements on campus.
The first edition of the newly revived Faces of Black Penn publication will be released this November. The returning publication seeks to amplify the Black student experience on campus through a variety of media including photography; journalism; opinion pieces; and student, alumni, and professor spotlights.
College junior Tarah Paul and College senior Marcus Ramirez are leading the creation of the 2022 Fall Edition of Faces of Black Penn as joint editors-in-chief. Both students said they were inspired by past efforts and successes to center the Black experience at Penn through publications.
“There have always been moments in Black Penn history in which students have tried to create Black literary outlets,'' Paul said. “[We want to] continue the legacy that was started by previous generations and to be a larger publication, focusing on issues of Black student life and Black Penn culture.”
The creators look forward to establishing Faces of Black Penn as a long-term publication inspired by older publications which center Black identity and experience.
“Black voices, specifically, compete for visibility and having a strong presence on campus,” Ramirez said.
In fall 2019, the Faces of Black Penn magazine, published by the Black Student League, highlighted student interviews and photographs of Black Penn students. Paul and Ramirez said they plan to expand on the 2019 edition and create a publication that offers more opportunities for students to express themselves.
“We're trying to showcase and highlight the stories, the experiences, and the opinions of Black students at Penn,” College junior and the publication's Campus and Culture Creative Editor Mason Perry said.
The first Black publication at Penn was released in 1979 as a yearbook called "Black Pride ’79: Black Student News Anthology," which focused on Black student life, extracurricular activities, and interests, according to Reflections: The UPenn Black History Project.
In the following years, Penn students also founded a multicultural magazine called The Voice in 1982 and The Vision in 1989. The latter would become the longest-running publication focusing on Black student life, popular culture, and campus events, publishing sporadically through the '90s.
A version of The Vision briefly returned to campus in September 2014 as a weekly column in The Daily Pennsylvanian featuring Black voices on campus, but the opinion column ended in February the following year.
“[Similar publications] have always been an important facet of Black Penn,” Paul said. “And it's always been an important facet of being able to share our stories. And to have our stories be recognized.”
Brian Peterson, the director of Makuu: The Black Cultural Center, has taught classes on the history and advocacy of publications centering the Black experience at Penn. He said that he believes in the importance of student-led initiatives like Faces of Black Penn.
"Advocacy is fueled by publications [like The Vision] by having a space to say we need to talk about our experiences and our stories," Peterson told the DP. "Black Penn has always had its own narrative, but it just depends on student capacity and how to really leverage different resources."
2022 College graduate Hadriana Lowenkron, the first Black editor-in-chief of the DP, said she has emphasized efforts to center more Black voices at Penn in her tenure as a senior editor. Lowenkron said she hopes that, in the future, the DP will collaborate with the Faces of Black Penn publication to highlight more Black voices on campus.
"[Faces of Black Penn] gives students a chance to share their opinions, their thoughts, their ideas, and highlight all of their talent," Lowenkron told the DP.
The publication's creators said they are excited for students to see the 2022 Fall Edition of Faces of Black Penn, which will be released this November.
“We are excited for [Black students] to see it and hope that it resonates well with them and they see themselves in the magazine,” Perry said.