WISE, Va. (WJHL) – Angel Johnson is an English Major specializing in African American Literature at UVA-Wise. She’s only a junior, but in her three years, she’s accomplished a lot at the University.

She formed the Black Student Union in the Spring of 2022 and leads the group as its President. While it can be quite the undertaking, she said it’s one she was ready to tackle head-on.

“It’s been very hectic but it’s been very rewarding, too. We’ve gotten a lot accomplished including a fundraiser and gathering members. There are so many people who were interested in joining and it’s not that I was surprised by that, I think I was just surprised by the number of people,” said Johnson.

As she approaches the one-year mark since starting the Black Student Union, she’s looking back on what it took to get the organization to where it is today.

“For every person who didn’t like it, there were 10 people who supported me. I focused on the positives more than the negatives,” she said.

While the organization is in its first year at UVA-Wise, a similar group, the Black Affairs Association at ETSU has been around for a few years. There have been changes along the way, according to current President, Derron Dean, but he said those changes have been for the best.

“Now it’s been kind of fun to revamp Black Affairs and get a new executive board and help everybody learn what Black Affairs is and get away from that stigma that we’re only for black students,” said Dean.

Both Dean and Johnson told News Channel 11 that running these organizations is not all fun and games. While that’s a great bonus, they said the real reason for the groups is not being forgotten.

“Yes, it’s fun having pizza parties and doing these community events but I hope people take away that we’ve come so far here in America and this is where we’ve come from and this is where we should go, and there’s a lot more work that needs to be done,” said Johnson.

“The main goal is just to grow and keep in that steady place where we can always have a good conversation or dialogue whenever we’re having our meetings,” Dean said.

For Angel Johnson, she said she didn’t just create an organization. To some, she created a place that feels like a home away from home.

“It’s basically finding my community and group of people who are just as passionate about black history and black life and not just black, but any culture. People who are passionate about race and diversity and it was very comforting to find that I’m not the only one on this campus. It’s like my mini support club and I absolutely adore it,” she said.