Black Action Society (BAS) hosted a poetry slam Monday evening in the Robert M. Smith Student Center Ballroom to celebrate Black History Month through poetry, music and more.
Public relations chairwoman of BAS, Catharyn Burton was responsible for planning the event in its entirety. BAS collaborated with SRU’s BeatBox Society to give performances that appealed to all those in attendance.
“I hoped that students would be able to embrace another culture during Black History Month and also allow students to showcase their talents so that other students could see them in a different light,” Burton said.
Sophomore psychology major Tory Hill was the host of the event centered on celebrating black culture. Hill was responsible for introducing each act, as well as starting the poetry slam with a poem titled, “The N Word.”
Black Action Society is geared towards making students aware of black culture by hosting events on campus. All students who attended the poetry slam were encouraged to participate. Students found different mediums to express their appreciation for black culture, whether through poetry, music, or dance.
“Black Action Society spreads awareness around campus in a variety of ways,” Burton said. “We hold many events throughout the year. This year, we held a panel called Tales of a Black Student Leader, we had our pre-Kwanzaa event, which served to educate students on the meaning of Kwanzaa and we have been holding our week of events this week for Black History Month, which traditionally ends with the Ebony Ball: a remembrance of our past and celebration of our future.”
Of all the students who read poetry during the slam, John Riggio, president of Slam Poetry Club, was among them. Riggio read an original piece called “Black Lives Matter,” which he wrote for the BAS Poetry Slam.
Treasurer of BAS Odell Richardson chose to sing “My Girl” by The Temptations, who were an African-American group from the 1960s. Another student sang Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.”
Exercise Science major Dayne Fields danced to “Until I Pass Out” by Uncle Reese. Fields is involved in Slippery Rock University’s hip-hop dance team, Jam Rock.
“I had about the first 30 seconds for the dance planned, but the rest was off the top of my head,” Fields said. “Black Action Society is an organization I have been involved in before, so when Catharyn emailed me to dance at the poetry slam, I was more than willing.”
Audience members were immersed in creative expression of black culture. Among the audience members was safety management major Jeanine Clay who said has attended previous BAS events.
“I thoroughly enjoyed this poetry slam,” Clay said. “I thought the recitation of Maya Angelou’s poem ‘Still I Rise’ was the best part.”
As Black History Month progresses, BAS will continue to host events that raise awareness of black culture. Students can attend the events on campus regardless of their race to learn more about black principles and practices.
“I think it is important for students to get involved in Black Action Society and embrace other cultures and traditions other than their own,” Burton said.