Honoring the Black Diaspora

Natalie Spears, Special Features Editor

Following Black History Month, the Black Student Union (BSU) planned an exciting Black Arts Festival, which included a fashion show, talent show, racism workshop, and more. The week-long festival celebrated cultural diversity while raising awareness on campus. The annual event brings students together to take part in performances that promote inclusion and acceptance of the unique qualities of different cultures. The festival has always been a major success, and this year was no different.

A history of the Black Arts Festival

The Black Arts Festival has been a tradition at the University for some time now.

“The Black Student Union’s Black Arts Festival started as an opportunity for the Bucknell and greater community to experience and interact with different aspects of black art and its various expressions,” BSU President Jotham Stephenson ’18 said. 

The events change each year, but they always aim to demonstrate talent and educate participants about black culture. The fashion show has been one of the most popular events for the past few years.

“As an organization, the overarching goal of the festival is to provide exposure to black art and culture in a fun and interactive setting. We aim to inform and involve as many members of the Bucknell community as possible, in activities that will enlighten them on the black diaspora and how it encompasses art,” Stephenson said. 

Recap of this year’s festival

From March 2 to March 6, BSU arranged daily events to celebrate diversity. The festivities began with a kickoff dinner, followed by a workshop titled “Five Steps to Cure Racism,” a talent show, a fashion show, and a performance of “Soul of Langston” by the Pin Points to finish off the week. This year’s festival was one of the most successful for the BSU.

“The turnout this year in particular was phenomenal. We received great feedback on all events as well as much outside involvement and assistance. The fashion show in particular, which has for the past three years been our largest event, had an especially impressive turnout,” Stephenson said.

BSU member Charlene Agaruwa ’19 was thrilled with the success of the fashion show.

“I believe the fashion show left an impactful feeling with me and hopefully with the people that attended. I believe this event promoted Bucknell’s mission to enhance diversity and inclusivity on campus in a symbolic form. The scene where the ‘All Black’ and ‘All White’ came together united; where two women partnered up in the ‘Formal’ scene, where models spoke in their native language and danced to their cultural music, where a model showed his identity as a scholar and also an athlete–these all symbolize Bucknell’s overarching commitment to spread acceptance. I appreciate all that BSU is doing to make sure that Bucknell is a safe and welcoming place to be,” Agaruwa said.

BSU at large

The BSU has always worked hard to promote inclusivity and educate the campus on black culture and history.

“BSU does not only put on events during the Black Arts Festival. For Black History Month, we organized a community service trip to a couple of local after-school programs where we hosted interactive activities for the children on topics of black history. In honor of Black History Month, we also hosted a play titled ‘1001 Black Inventions,’ which walked through the life of a family without access to any tools invented by people of color. These are but a couple of examples of ways in which we are working to raise awareness of the black diaspora on Bucknell’s campus,” Stephenson said.

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