Black Arts Festival explores cultural excellence

By Lauren Buckley


Members of the Black Student Union (BSU) sponsored the 2012 Black Arts Festival, which ran from April 19 to April 22 and featured 15 organized events.

A University tradition, the Black Arts Festival is a highly anticipated event that has been recognized for many years by the University community. The event was revived in 2009 and has been growing larger every year since. BSU was primarily responsible for planning and coordinating the festival, but co-sponsors included the Office of Multicultural Student Services, Development and Alumni Relations, the Office of the Provost, the Office of the President, the Dean of Students Office, the Parents Board, BSG, BASA, ACE and the Offices of Alumni Relations/Career Development Center.

“I find the Black Arts Festival important because it is a time for minority students to come together and put on events and workshops on campus that not only educate the greater community about the black arts, but also provide some fun alternative social events for students to enjoy outside of the regular weekend activities,” said Doneeca Thurston ’12, president of the BSU.

A kickoff reception in the Terrace Room on April 19 marked the start of the 2012 Black Arts Festival, followed by a monologue and keynote address by Donald Molosi in Bucknell Hall. Molosi is a prominent African actor who discussed his inspirations and involvement in the world of theater. His identity as African played a major theme in his address, especially in his monologue “Blue, Black & White,” which discusses race and culture in Botswana.

Friday’s events continued the excitement generated by Thursday’s successful kickoff. Several workshops were offered in the afternoon, including a poetry/spoken word workshop, a theater workshop led by Molosi and a dance workshop covering African, Caribbean, hip-hop and belly-dancing styles taught by students Aliyah Johnson ’14 and Saba Davis ’14.

Friday evening also consisted of Praise Gate 2012! and a free-style dance, rap and beat-boxing competition at Uptown. The overall winner of the battle was Dave Lackford ’12, but the event had many talented contenders.

“I think it would be a great addition to this campus’s culture if black arts could be implemented into the main stream culture. Or maybe that’s what makes the black arts great, that they’re a sub or counter-culture,” Lackford said.

“The BAF is important to me because it is a celebration that indulges in the arts like music, theatre, poetry and dance. I’m always excited about attending the events because they are so different from what I do in the classroom on a daily basis as an engineer,” BSU member Megan Reid ’14 said.

Saturday morning featured a “Black History Alive and Memphis Trip” presentation in Seventh Street House and a Block Party that featured live music, food, t-shirt decorating, inflatables, henna tattoos, tie-dye, caricatures and vendors. BASA, CARE, YOR Health and the “Our Haitian Brothers” organization also had booths at the Block Party to promote awareness about their respective organizations. Morgan Davis ’12 then brought the crowd to Walls Lounge for a hair workshop.

“I attended the Hairtacular event this year and learned about society’s view of different hair types, colors, textures and got a chance to have dialogue with people who have had different hair experiences–whether the experiences were about doing their hair or how other people perceived them based on their hair,” Reid said.

Students who had worked so hard to organize the Black Arts Festival were rewarded on Saturday evening with a performance from up-and-coming R&B/Soul artists Elle Varner of Los Angeles and K-Von the Great, a young artist from Cleveland who raps about real-life struggles in today’s world. After the concert, students attended the “Black-Out” after-party semi-formal in the Center Room, which featured DJ Nitecrawler.

“I would like to get more Bucknell students involved by encouraging them to come to our events. The BSU is for everyone to enjoy and be a part of, and the fact that it has the word ‘black’ in it should not discourage students from joining our organization or attending our events. I can see that with the name ‘Black Student Union,’ the average Bucknellian can assume that our organization caters to a particular group of people, but that is most certainly not the case,” Thurston said.

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