On Sunday, the Black Student Alliance, or BSA, hosted the 50th annual Black Power Rally at The Wharton Center. The rally featured performances by several student organizations.
The rally is a tradition that first began in 1972. It has brought the MSU Black community together to both celebrate Black culture and give voice to issues that the community faces, all through sketches, song and dance.
The theme of the event was ‘The Blackprint: Our culture can not be canceled.’ It honors the significance of Black culture throughout history and in the present day.
Black culture was celebrated throughout the event through awards given out by members of BSA for fun. The categories included ‘Best Actor,’ ‘Best Show’ and ‘Best Album.’ Members of BSA acting as the recipients accepted the awards.
President of the Black Student Alliance and human biology junior Marcus McDaniel Jr. said intersectionality was another important theme of the event.
Intersectionality is defined as “the ways in which systems of inequality based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, class and other forms of discrimination “intersect” to create unique dynamics and effects,” according to the Center for Intersectional Justice.
“This year’s theme is introducing intersectionality for the Black community,” McDaniel said in his speech. “There’s a lot of things that go into this: how you grew up, how you were raised, your whole environment as it is. What makes you who you are to be able to sit in front of me today.”
The event featured several skits, dances and poetry readings to discuss the issues that Black America faces through art.
Dance organization Urban Dreams performed at the rally, joined by the Royal Dance Movement. Sophomore psychology major Amaya Elliott was one of the performers.
“I will be doing a majorette dance with the dance team,” Elliott said. “It is a diverse hip hop team on campus, but sometimes we do majorette, or we do something more jazz but our main focus is hip hop.”
Other performances included sketches and poetry readings, as well as a fashion show put on by N Crowd magazine during intermission.
Author, activist and founder of the Trayvon Martin foundation Sybrina Fulton gave a speech at the event.
Fulton spoke about the experience of losing Martin, her son. In 2012, the 17-year-old was fatally shot by George Zimmerman when going for a walk in Sanford, Florida.
“We want to send a clear message that Trayvon had a right to walk in peace without being followed, chased, pursued, profiled or murdered,” Fulton said.
Fulton offered advice for the college students in the audience: to set goals.
“Just know that whatever you put your mind to do, you can do it,” Fulton said. “And it seems hard to believe but you just need to get started. You just need to do what you need to do for yourself. Don’t always be a follower, be a leader.”
The event closed with the presentation of The Lifetime Achievement Award by members of BSA. They offered the award to BSA founder Robert L. Green who created the space for Black students in the basement of his own home in 1967. According to the BSA website, Green’s basement served as a “space for the organization” and Black students on campus.
“It is a pleasure to see you and to know your work and also to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award,” Green said in his closing speech. “The award means a lot to me because Michigan State means a lot to me.”
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