Student leaders marched to the stage, lights flashed throughout the Auditorium, and students stood in unity with fists raised. The 39th annual Black Power Rally was underway.
The” Black Student Alliance, or BSA,”:https://www.msu.edu/~bsaemail/ hosted the event, which featured poetry readings, musical performances, skits and a speech from keynote speaker M.K. Asante Jr., an author, filmmaker and professor at Morgan State University.
Black Caucus director and BSA executive board member Shaina Simpson, an English junior, said the group began planning the event in August and hoped it would provide support for black students on campus.
“(The power rally) can be very comforting (for students) in times of trouble,” Simpson said. “This is a way for students to feel supported by their community. Every culture is important, and everyone contributes to this campus.”
Two of the night’s loudest ovations came after vocal performances of the Black National Anthem by MSU students Toni Dunbar and Brent Mitchell and an ensemble performance of Nina Simone’s “Four Women” by MSU students Trevae Cain, Patricia Jackson, Amber Lewis and Bria Warmsby.
Mitchell, a communication senior, said he has been singing since high school and was honored to be asked to perform in the annual event, which drew about 200 people Wednesday.
Events such as the Black Power Rally can benefit all students regardless of race, he said.
“Programs like this educate and helps get people more familiar with African Americans,” Mitchell said. “(And for black students,) it gives people the sense that there’s somebody who has your back.”
Kinesiology junior Ashley Robinson performed in a skit that preceded “Four Women” and said she was excited to take the stage.
“I wanted to be a part of the celebration and collectively hone in on my heritage and explore it and give it to all others who are ready to explore (as well),” she said. “This event gives awareness to students who don’t really know about the problems (and) don’t really know the inception of the problems.”
Biosystems engineering sophomore Lauren Moore serves as the President of MSU’s Successful Black Women and attended the event for the first time.
Before the show, Moore said she was excited to see what the performances would be like.
“The whole purpose of this campus is to inform and share that knowledge, and I think programs like this are very good at that,” she said. “Seeing that we … can come together shows that we’re a people of hope, a people of intelligence and a people of faith.”
Psychology professor and former vice president for Student Affairs and Services Lee June attended the rally and described the event as an educational program capable of benefitting the entire campus.
“It’s a chance to understand the African American culture,” June said. “As we are better educated about different cultures, we’re better able to act across cultural lines.”
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