The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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“Young, Gifted and Black”: Black Arts Fest 2024

Dora+Kreitzer%2C+Editor+in+Chief+%2F+The+Bucknellian
Dora Kreitzer, Editor in Chief / The Bucknellian

Annually at the end of every Feb., Black History Month, the Bucknell Black Student Union (BSU) hosts their Black Arts Fest. The week featuring various events on campus is a time to highlight and celebrate “Black love, light and talent”.  

Nationally, Black History Month spotlights a new theme each year. Aligning closely with Black Arts Fest “Black People and the Arts” is the national theme of 2024. In a similar fashion, BSU curated a theme for the Black Arts Fest: “Young, Gifted, and Black.” 

President of BSU Endia Scales ’24 broke down the planning behind the week and changes that can be seen this year in comparison to recent Black Arts Fests. 

“This year we changed things up with Black Arts Fest and went back to an old tradition,” Scales shared. “In addition to our traditional weekend events, we also planned events for Sunday, February 19th – February 21st. As President and Chief of Staff, Ninah and I thought it would be a good idea to give all executive board members a special piece to the week-long celebration, even us. We paired off to program our days and events Sunday – Wednesday.”

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BSU successfully brought back events for the fest throughout the week and are preparing for the events that remain. Scales explained the spacing of events saying, “We left Thursday open to give us a chance to catch our breath before the big weekend events. Friday and Saturday, Fashion Show and Stomp Out will be collective efforts amongst us all and the broader Black community.”

Events are open to all Bucknell students and attendance is encouraged. With the Black Arts Fest extending and continuing over this weekend, students still have an opportunity to attend and support the final events. 

“The events all highlight a different form of art in a unique way. It was so rewarding throughout the week to see my team’s events come to fruition in the way they imagined. I couldn’t be prouder to call myself President of this organization,” Scales reflected. “I wanted this to be a learning experience for the team but also something personal that they could look back on and be proud of. The process wasn’t easy as some of them will tell you, but I hope they found it to be rewarding and continue to use the transferable skills they gained.”

Adding to the work behind the scenes for planning large scale events like Black Arts Fest Ninah Jackson ‘25 the BSU Chief of Staff shared, “I’ve been on the executive board of the Black Student Union since my freshman year at Bucknell, meaning I’m lucky to have contributed to the planning and execution of three Black Arts Fests. My favorite aspect of planning Black Arts Fest is trying to go bigger and better every year and trying to out-do ourselves!” 

Jackson continued and noted, “Last academic year, the BSU executive board purchased special edition 2023 Black Arts Fest merchandise for all of the participants that we had and general attendees. We had keychains, stickers, hoodies…the whole nine! This year, we decided to extend Black Arts Fest by incorporating a week’s worth of events leading up to our signature fashion show and Stomp Out Classic. Who knows what we’ll come up with for next year!”

To highlight the work of BSU members throughout the week we take a look at the breakdown of events thus far and what is left to come. 

Kick-Off Brunch

Sunday Feb. 18 marked the beginning of Black Arts Fest with a Kick-Off Brunch. The event was hosted at the MacDonald Commons from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. and was held to commence the week and feature events that were to come. Attire for the event was advertised as “Brunch with a hint of Sunday’s best” and welcomed all students. 

The first event of the week was collaboratively organized by BSU President Endia Scales ’24, Secretary Angel Sousani-Twumasi ’25 and First Year Representative Julie-Nelson-Saunders ’27.

Speaking of experiences with the planning of these events in the President position Scales shared, “As a senior, I think my favorite part about contributing to Black Arts Fest over the years has always been witnessing the day of execution of it all. It can be hard to visualize how it will turn out during the planning process but there is no better feeling than when it all comes together in the end.”

The Power of Black Narratives 

The second day of Black Arts Fest was Monday Feb. 19 with an evening event for students. “The Power of Black Narratives” took place from 6-7:30 p.m. in the D&I Multipurpose room. The event was a student roundtable discussion with both poetry and spoken word. 

Darius Simpson a “writer. poet. performer.” (dariussimpson.com) was featured as a guest artist at the event. Simpson shared both his poetry and spoken word as well as taking lead on the student discussion. The night was intended to, “…explore the impact, significance and resonance of Black art and media in our lives, culture and society” (BSU). 

Executive board members Ninah Jackson ’25 Chief of Staff and Q Andrews ’24 Chair of Political Action were partners in the development of this event. 

Open Mic Night 

Many students took the stage Tuesday at Uptown Night Club during the third night of Black Arts Fest. Open Mic Night gave students and groups the opportunity to feature different talents and artistic abilities. Talents ranged from poetry, to music, storytelling and others that could be featured on a stage. The event took place from 7-9pm and also offered food to those who attended. 

This third event was designed by BSU Historian Reece Pauling ’24 and Chair of Marketing KJ (Kenneth Scott, JR.) ’26. 

Wellness Night 

The final event before the weekend took place on Wednesday night. In the D&I Multi-Purpose room, BSU hosted Wellness Night for students. The event was intended to spread calm and positive energy to students through making shea butter and creating Affirmation Jars to share positive words. The event took place from 6-7:30pm and was the closing to the first half of the week for Black Arts Fest.

Wellness Night was constructed and executed by a partnership of BSU Director of Programming Camoni Mullins-Warren ’25 and Treasurer Devin Halliburton ’24.

Weekend Events; Fashion Show and Stomp Out

Also much anticipated by students are the events that are taking place over the weekend on campus. The annual Fashion Show and Stomp Out have been featured annually as main events for the BSU Black Arts Fest. 

Known for attracting large volumes of students and student interest is the Fashion Show that will be taking place Friday Feb. 23. Taking place in Larison Dining Hall from 8-10 p.m., attending students are asked to “dress to impress” and enjoy a night of Black culture and Black fashion. The event was advertised as “Fashion is Black!” and will feature student’s on the runway, student themes and stories. 

Following the Fashion Show, BSU is also hosting an after party at the 7th Street Affinity House. From 10pm-12 a.m. students can attend the silent “Old School Night Headphone Party” for a night with friends and music.

Closing out the Black Arts Fest week on Saturday, Feb. 24 is the annual Stomp Out. Taking place in the Weis Center for Performing Arts, this event invites different teams of Divine Nine Organizations from various universities to compete in the step show. From Bucknell, the Xi Kappa Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. along with the Rho Iota Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. are two of the teams competing for the $1500 grand prize. Students can attend the event starting at 7 p.m. 

Later that night to celebrate the Black Arts Fest week, students are invited to the Stomp Out After Party. The celebration for Black History Month and Black Arts Fest will take place at Uptown Nightclub from 11 p.m.-2 a.m. Devin Halliburton ’24, @therealdjdash, will be the featured DJ at the event filled with music, dancing and celebration. 

Reflecting on the significance and impacts of Black Arts Fest on campus Ninah Jackson ‘25 shared, “This year marks the 13th annual celebration of Black Arts Fest and, for me, this is a testament to the generations of Black Bucknell students who’ve been committed to creating moments where Black cultures, people, and histories can unabashedly and unapologetically take center stage!”

Commenting on the important uniqueness of this week Jackson said, “Fully student coordinated, Black Arts Fest occurs on our terms and comes to fruition from our imaginings and dreams, which is radically different from the day-to-day experience of Black students on campus. More than anything, my hope is that Black students see the extraordinary labor of love that is Black Arts Fest and are moved to join us as an active member or future executive board member! I also hope that Black Arts Fest gives Black students juuuust enough inspiration and empowerment to fuel their journey through the rest of the semester.”

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Juliana Rodrigues
Juliana Rodrigues, Special Features Editor

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