A &E

Black Empowerment Through the Arts

With Black History Month coming to a close, students were offered a final opportunity to reflect on the contributions of the black community with a special event, “A Celebration of Black History,” hosted by the School of Arts and Sciences on Feb. 21 in the SCC Boardrooms.

The theme of this year’s event was “Black Superheroes, Black Film, and Black Empowerment.”  According to Heather Parker, associate dean of the school of arts and sciences, this theme was chosen because “students need to understand that political and social movements are reflected in popular culture, such as movies, television, music, and, as this event showed – superheroes in comic books. It is important to think about this as we watch movies and listen to music today.”

Parker also raised the question, “What do movies and television and music tell us about the society we live in today?”

The event featured trifold posters focused on the theme and was created with the help of students. Also on display were action figures of some black superheroes, such as Marvel Comics’ Black Panther and Bumblebee, a D.C. superhero girl. As for black film, there were posters created about prominent black actors, actresses, and TV shows. These included actor and musician Ice Cube, and the TV shows “The Cosby Show,” “Empire,” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-air.”

Students had the opportunity to dress up like a superhero and have their photo taken. They also had the option of having a caricature drawn of themselves as a superhero.

The event also featured some tasty dishes. Macaroni and cheese and pumpkin pie available which, in addition to the caricatures, seemed to be a crowd favorite.

Martina McKoy, a sophomore psychology major, said, “I liked the exhibits and the fun activities, but most of all truly enjoyed the food. Pumpkin pie is my favorite!”

Parker also made a speech about black empowerment. The presentation explored ways in which black people were oppressed by society, in addition to the ways in which they fought back specifically through their artwork. Music, film, comics, and television shows were used as a means of empowerment for black people, and they inspired hope about the improvement of their quality of life. The presentation opened with the song, “A Change Is Gonna Come,” written in 1964 by Sam Cooke, which was effective in introducing the topic, as the song speaks to the underlying themes of oppression and hope.

“The presentation gave me perspective on how far the black community has come. There is power in unity, and I definitely have strong feelings of pride because of our history,” said Laurian Simpson, a freshman biology major.

The event set out to “help students understand the connection between the movement for black empowerment that occurred in the late 1960s and the early 1970s and the explosion of the creation of powerful black superheroes and powerful characters in black film during the same period,” according to Parker. Based on its displays, activities, and reception, it is clear to see that this goal was achieved.

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