Alpha Phi Alpha Presents: B.L.A.C.K.

On Saturday, February 24th, the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. hosted their annual B.L.A.C.K event in honor of Black History Month, and Her Campus at CNU had the pleasure of attending this phenomenal event. We reached out to Nassir Criss, a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha, to answer a few questions about the significance of this event and the history behind it.

How and why did this event get started? What’s the history behind it?

Spring semester of 2016 was the first time that the Alphas hosted this event, though it was first named Black on Black Rhyme. According to Nassir, one of their Prophytes, or the brothers who have come before them, Derick Lee Stephenson Jr. had the idea of hosting an arts showcase at CNU that would be centered mainly around spoken word poetry and would highlight black history month as well as educate and entertain. The second year around, they decided to rename the event B.L.A.C.K., which stands for Beauty, Love, Achievement, Culture, and Knowledge. Nassir mentions that “[this year] we wanted to encourage all CNU students to come to the event and be able to experience a night of not only spoken word, but also fine arts, music, performances, and much more”. The turnout was amazing; the event was sold out and every seat in the Black Box theater was filled!

Khalia Dixon performing "If I Ain't Got You" by Alicia Keys

What does this event mean to you?

“This event makes me understand and be proud of my blackness. The Essence of B.L.A.C.K. is to celebrate the history, culture, and struggle of Black Americans which inspires me to persevere in life every time I face an obstacle that I feel I cannot overcome. If the lineage of my ancestry can survive being transported in disease-ridden ships, enslaved while their identity was taken away, and fight for basic human rights after being taught that you are, in fact, less than human, then what right do I have to ever think about quitting? This struggle is still true, to a certain extent, today and this event shows me that we as a people still must continue to fight for our voices to be heard and to be seen by those who look down upon us. This is especially important for us to attract attention with our presence as minorities at PWIs (Predominately White Institutions) so that diverse groups of people can understand one another.”

David Guy performing "Blue Train" by John Coltrane

Why is it so important to celebrate black history month at a predominately white university?

“[It is important because] dominant cultures and groups can become immersed in African-American culture to foster understanding. Many conflicts, issues, and injustices come from a lack of understanding. It also helps us as Americans to realize our history and how it shapes the modern world; how blacks were more than slaves that were exploited [and] that we are in fact pioneers, activists, scientists, lawyers, doctors, and so much more."

Derick Lee performing spoken word

What are the Alphas up to next?

“We are participating in a Yard Show on March 24th along with the other NPHC organizations on campus. The CNU Multicultural Committee is hosting this event, which will involve organization specific stepping and strolls. We are [also] conducting our high school youth initiative on March 22nd called Go-to-high-school-go-to-college to inform local students of the benefits and costs of obtaining a college education. [On top of that], we are hosting an 'Alpha Week' in which we have a week long line-up of events from April 9th to the 13th. Events include an Alpha 101 session, Women’s Appreciation Day, and a large-scale fashion show, which is a first-time event for us. We will also be participating in the March of Dimes Walk in May, along with partnering with the Brilliance Debutante Cotillion for an informational session at Bryant and Stratton College focused on interactive workshops to build character and positive self-image in young men and women. We will be accepting an award for hosting our annual Bald for Cause event that both helps and raises awareness for those who suffer from Alopecia, which is a disease that causes young people to rapidly lose their hair. This award will be accepted on March 2nd at the Hampton Convention Center.”

This event was, as always, a great success, and we cannot wait to see what other amazing things the Alphas will do. A huge thanks to the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. for hosting such an amazing event and letting Her Campus at CNU cover it, and to the performers who took it upon themselves to let their voices be heard!

Jon Echols performing spoken word

Nina is a sophomore at Christopher Newport University. She is majoring in English with a concentration in writing. In her free time, Nina enjoys reading, writing, discovering new music, going thrift shopping, and most of all traveling! She loves being surrounded by her family and friends and enjoys spending time with her CNU Her Campus family!

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