Culture, soul food connects students

The savory smell of creamy macaroni and cheese and crispy fried chicken mixed with the sounds of saxophones and booming music from DJ speakers drew students to the Hubbard Hall cafeteria for the Soul Food Extravaganza as a final farewell to 2013’s Black History Month.

Outside the cafeteria Thursday night, a line of students wrapped around the staircase to the main floor. Inside, the cafeteria was overflowing anxious students by the event’s end. Red and green tablecloths covered some of the cafeteria tables, where students sat talking and taking in black culture through entertainment and dining.

“Because it is Black History Month, we wanted to show the history of soul food and everything the black culture has to offer,” said Joshua Gillespie, assistant director of Resident Education and Housing Services, who helped plan the event. “This is one way to be globally minded at MSU, and we want students to learn, engage and express themselves.”

With the lights dimmed and a stage decorated with red and green balloons and shiny streamers, singing, dancing, poetry and black history trivia entertained the crowd in the cafeteria during the celebration. The event was sponsored by LiveOn and planned by East Neighborhood Intercultural Aides.

Event attendee and marketing freshman Miles Felton, said events such as these can help change the current view of black culture.

“Sometimes people can have a negative idea about African American culture because of the rap that is now played,” Felton said. “(An) event like this brings a positive outlook on African American community, it’s not just about rap music and tattoos”

Gillespie also said while planning the Soul Food Extravaganza, he wanted to combine all aspects of black culture to show students what the community has to offer.

“Culture has many facets, such as music, singing, dance and stepping, so for this event, we wanted to represent the black culture,” Gillespie said. “Gospel music is a major part of black culture so we thought having the MSU Gospel Choir was important.”

Humanities senior Gerald Dixon II, a member of the MSU Gospel Choir, said he was excited to perform.

“We wanted to come and perform because we want to spread the love of God and just show love to all the people in campus,” Dixon said. “I think events like these are so important because it helps embrace all cultures and show how all of us can spend time together.”

As an intercultural aide in South Neighborhood, accounting senior India Lacy came to the Soul Food Extravaganza to support the intercultural aides in East Neighborhood, celebrate her African American culture and eat scrumptious food, she said.

“Today is the last day of Black History Month, so this is a great way for others to realize who we are and what we are about,” Lacy said. “Soul food is a better title because food is an important part of our culture.”

Gillespie said the event does not force people to like black culture. He saw it as a chance to show why students should continue to live among many different cultures.

“We want to create a positive experience for students living on campus,” Gillespie said. “This can enhance everyone’s knowledge about black culture and do it in a way that is not combative, but rather positive.”

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