The Black Ace Magazine returns to highlight Black voices, culture in print this school year

Media Credit: Rachel Schwartz | Assistant Photo Editor-

The Black Ace Magazine’s first physical edition since 2017 will print this November, including profiles of Black students, Black-made art and Black-owned businesses around the District.

For the first time in five years, printed copies of The Black Ace Magazine will return to campus this fall.

The Black Ace Magazine – a student-run publication highlighting Black voices and culture – will print its first physical edition since 2017 this November with profiles of Black students, Black-made art and Black-owned businesses around the District, students on the magazine said. They said The Black Ace, which was founded in 2007, will print biannual editions starting this academic year after going inactive in 2021 due to insufficient funding and an understaffed student board.

The magazine’s editors said they will focus on retention within their team of more than 20 students through the upcoming year with team bonding events and outreach programs for underclassmen to ensure the magazine’s legacy lives on.

Senior Kiera Sona, The Black Ace’s editor in chief, first heard about The Black Ace Magazine as a freshman but was unclear about how to get involved in the publication that lacked organization and deep membership during the time. She said she was inspired to bring The Black Ace back to campus last semester to provide an archive for Black students and accurately represent the Black community on campus as their “most authentic selves.” 

“Not having your history and your culture documented so that people in the next generations can look back on it – it takes a toll on your unity as a group,” Sona said. “I think it’s so important that we tell our own story so that we aren’t being misrepresented or having our stories told by someone else.”

Sona said she started hiring e-board positions over the summer, and now the magazine has accumulated more than 20 writers, editors and staff members.

She said The Black Ace will avoid politicizing Black culture and identities through coverage of news events and political issues, instead focusing on Black culture to uplift students and locals around D.C. She said the magazine will include profiles on local Black businesses like JC Lofton Tailors, a family-owned tailor business that has operated on U Street since 2000, and interviews with Black student painters, poets and fashion designers. 

“A lot of times the best thing you can do for people that you’re trying to lift up is just to give them a platform for their voices and to give them the space to just be themselves and to promote that culture instead,” Sona said. “The political side of things just always isn’t the best avenue.”

Sona said she plans to recruit a team of writers who are “passionate” about journalism and build strong relationships with the Black Student Union and Black professors within the School of Media and Public Affairs to ensure The Black Ace builds a sustainable organization that will last for future generations at GW.

“I really want to make sure that The Ace’s legacy is kept because it does nod off every couple years, and that’s not the case for a lot of other orgs that are so long-standing,” Sona said. “I think it’s really important that our Black history at GW is kept and it can be accounted for.”

Peyton Wilson, a recent graduate from the Class of 2022 and the former editorial director for The Black Ace Magazine until its hiatus in spring 2021, said the magazine first started as a newsletter for the Black Student Union in the early 2000s before evolving into Ace Magazine, a multicultural magazine highlighting different cultural communities on campus. 

They said the impact of racist incidents on campus like harmful social media posts from sorority leaders and offensive comments from former University President Thomas LeBlanc spurred magazine leadership to shift the focus of the magazine from a general, multicultural perspective to a specifically Black publication.

“In terms of real repercussions or healing or apologies for Black students on campus, nothing really took place, and it actually had an impact on Black students,” Wilson said.

They said a lack of funding from the Student Association and an understaffed team of students to replace graduating members ushered in the magazine’s period of inactivity. They said five students were in charge of writing, editing and designing the magazine in 2019 for online publication, and the team would often pay out of pocket for expenses like T-shirts.

“We had all of these big ideas, but they couldn’t be achieved without funding,” Wilson said.

Wilson said Sona contacted them for assistance in reviving the magazine earlier this year, and Wilson almost cried at the prospect of The Black Ace returning to campus and offering a voice to Black students once again.

“I feel a lot better because I really thought I was going to graduate and it was just going to go with me,” Wilson said. “But I’m happy to see that that’s not the case.”

Wilson said they hope physical copies of the magazine will raise awareness of and reinvigorate energy surrounding the publication, which members said built strong momentum in 2007 after its founding. They said they hope staff within the Multicultural Student Services Center and student organizations like the SA and BSU will support The Black Ace as it reemerges in campus life, not only through verbal support and enthusiasm but also through funding. 

“I want to see the University supporting it with money, but not with words, because we got our little nods but there were no checks in our hands,” Wilson said. 

Junior Suad Mohamed, The Black Ace’s financial officer, said the magazine will work to retain writers and editors throughout the year with team bonding events like a picnic on the National Mall this semester and a shared Spotify playlist. She said the magazine will focus on appealing to underclassmen in an effort to carry on The Black Ace’s legacy among future generations.

Mohamed said the magazine will host fall fundraising events, like a thrifting sale and yearbook-style headshots that seniors can purchase to have printed in the spring edition of The Black Ace. She said the proceeds will go toward merchandise, like T-shirts for members and a release party to celebrate the return of the magazine. 

“It’s important to shine a light on the Black community here at GW and ensure that anyone who comes here in the future, even 20 years down the line, says ‘Hey, there was a Black presence here,’” Mohamed said. 

Telease Bowen, the editorial director for The Black Ace, said she is looking forward to releasing physical copies of the magazine to the GW community during the upcoming year after “inconsistent” print publications from the magazine in the past. She said The Black Ace will serve as an archival piece of history for future Black generations at GW to look back at current culture and see Black stories represented accurately.

“That’s something I always think about, just the importance of 25 years from now, being able to look back at a publication like this that did capture Black GW,” Bowen said. “In the past, we just haven’t been able to do that.”

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