Celebrating Black History Through the Arts

By: Mary Sherwood

This past weekend, under the Center of Student Diversity, the Black Student Union coordinated one of the most moving performances of the year. This month marks the time that is dedicated to celebrating black history. In observation and learning about this, many students expressed their passion for their ancestry through the channel of arts.

Not only was the event celebrating the lifting of Jim Crow laws, but it was a learning experience about the history and how far not only African Americans, but other minorities have come. The program starts out with a scene of African Americans working in cotton fields that escalates quickly into a worker being beaten and taken away for not obeying orders. With this harsh scene, it was hard not to get the chills. The other scenes depicted the hardships still faced by many African Americans today such as assault, drug use, and the continuous racism throughout the world. Janay Boughton, whom is a part of the MSM Gospel Choir and the Program Co-Coordinator, class of ’14 expressed “I always say ‘this campus NEEDS this program’. They need it to be enlightened, and have their minds changed by witnessing our capabilities of greatness and not just seeing it through a history book lens that highlights the same select few figures of our history.”

Poetry then filled the air as students dramatically read poems by various authors and some of their own original compositions.  Some of the poems were recited by a single individual while others were performed by a small trio of performers. Each of the poems recited conveyed an important message, similar to the hardships depicted in the skits. In addition, the crowd really got excited as the Gospel Choir sang and danced in celebration of their culture. All of the proceeds from ticket sales for this event were sent to the Jacmel School of Music in Haiti in hopes of encouraging kids to continue their passion for the arts.

This performance was an incredibly moving experience and it made me realize how little I knew about black culture. Annie Walters, class of ’14 expressed, “I loved every second of it, especially the poetry and the songs. The performances were incredible and you can tell how much work and dedication those involved put into the show. It was definitely one of the best shows I have been to at the Mount. I hope they continue to do it every year!” Another student from the audience, Anne Bagliani, class of ’15 said that “To be honest, I had no idea what to expect when I bought the tickets through my friend and member of the BSU, Taylor, but I have to admit the songs, poems, and acting made my eyes tear up and gave me constant goose-bumps running that ran up and down my arms. It was one of the most powerful theatrical performances I have ever been lucky enough to watch.”

It was amazing to see how passionate each student was about their history and how far they have progressed in our country today, as shown by the individual performances. From segregation to integration, the students expressed their love for their motherland in addition to their love for freedom that they have today.

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