Black Student Union presents Ninth annual Black Arts Festival

Julie Spierer, Special Features Editor

The University’s Black Student Union (BSU) recently hosted their ninth annual Black Arts Festival, comprised of entertaining music and dance in a variety of different events. The Festival has been celebrated for years by the University as well as the Lewisburg Community. The Festival is emblematic of the appreciation for diversity, and celebration for the myriad of different artistic expressions that different cultures take pride in.

This year, the festival began on February 21, with speaker Riley C. Snorton, co-sponsored by BSU and the Griot Institute for Africana Studies. Snorton discussed black and queer intersections through the lens of modern culture.

The festival continued with a celebration of Black Arts, through the Bissonnette’s Ball, the Oompa and Band Performance, and the fashion show. Many students, faculty, staff, and community members attended the events to enjoy the organization’s cultural expressions. Below is a description of each of the artistic performances featured in the festival. 

Bisonnette’s Ball

The Bisonette’s Black Renaissance Ball was held in MacDonald Commons. Although tickets were free and available through the CAP center, all proceeds from donations went toward the B.A.C.E.S. service trip to the Dominican Republic and sponsoring a young girl’s education in Nigeria.

Oompa Performance

BSU, the Gender & Sexuality Alliance, the Office of LGBTQ Resources, the Griot Institute for Africana Studies, and the Stadler Center for Poetry welcomed University alumnus and hip-hop artist Lakiyra “Oompa” Williams ’13 to Uptown for a special performance.

The night began with Amarachi Ekekwe ’18 opening at 10 p.m., followed by Oompa’s performance.

“Black Arts Festival is a time where we celebrate the art of people from the African Diaspora. Due to the fact that we don’t have many times to embrace and own our culture, we use Black Arts Festival to remind Bucknellians that we have a very rich and deep history, waiting to be uncovered. This years Black Arts Festival was very empowering because we were able to come as one, and cultivate Black excellence, in the midst of turmoil in the world around us,” Ekekwe said.

Oompa is a poet, rapper, and educator, and winner of the 2017 Women of the World Poetry Slam. Featured in the Huffington Post, Allston Pudding, Mass Apparel, and KillerBoomBox, to name a few, Oompa represents the queer, black, orphaned, and hood kids in her work. Oompa’s debut album, “November 3rd” was named one of Dig Boston’s top 30 local albums of 2016, and one of Allston Pudding’s favorite albums of 2016.

“Her music spoke to the Black Experience at Bucknell. Although, I was not at Bucknell during her time, there were so many issues she touched on that just clicked for me. There was like an unspoken sentiment of understanding and empowerment in the room. It was really admirable,”Effiem Obasi ’20, Marketing Coordinator for BSU, said. 

Finishing with a Bang: the Fashion Show

The festival ended with the annual and always energetic BSU Fashion Show held in Davis Gym on Feb. 24. Students strutted their stuff in fashionable clothing and engaged the attentive audience with their cool dance moves accompanied to lively musical selections. The models in the show expressed their happiness with the turnout and the high energy within the gym.

“It was a blast! And the after party at Uptown was incredible. 183 people attended with DJ Kontrolla playing and it went until 2 in the morning! We had tons of pizza and cookies for everyone there as well,” John Quinn ’18, who participated in the show, said of the event. 

“I was a part several scenes for the fashion show so to see everything come together after so many long practices was really breathtaking. I feel each scene really spoke to our Black Arts Festival Theme of Reclaiming our Time. Through the form of of each models’ clothing and the music that played as we strutted down the walk way, it was clear that it is our time to live life by our own standards, without the acknowledgement of what society wants us to be. All the models looked amazing and the energy the crowd gave was beautiful,”Obasi said. 

The legacy

The University and Lewisburg Community look forward to the showcases of the culturally rich performances that BSU prepares.

“I think the festival is important to the Bucknell community because it showcases the different talents that multicultural students have on campus,” Gabby Kessel ’21, a fashion show participant, said.

As the ninth annual Black Arts Festival, the University community looks forward to the many years to come.

“As usual, the whole Black Arts Festival was amazing!” Quinn said.

The importance of the festival to the University’s campus cannot be emphasized enough.

“Black Arts Festival is important to Bucknell’s campus because it is a time dedicated to learning about a culture different from your own that is relevant to the experiences of people around you and society in general,” Obasi said. 

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