B.L.A.C.K.: A Performing Arts Showcase

On Feburary 17th, the brothers of the Upsilon Beta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. hosted their 4th annual performing arts showcase, B.L.A.C.K. The word, presented as an acronymn, stands for beauty, love, achievement, culture, and knowledge. As a fourth year Captain, I'm utterly shocked at myself that I've gone this long without experiencing this fantastic event. 

CNU's Blackbox Theater was transformed into a jazzy, poety bar, complete with twinkle lights, a lone piano, and a sign that dominated the stage area: BLACK. I had goosebumps the entire night, as I was completely captivated by each performer. The variation of singers, rappers, dancers, poets, and even a saxophone player kept the entire showcase fresh and alive. Each act showcased what it meant to be B.L.A.C.K.

The spoken word was my favorite part of the evening. Several poets and speakers shared their own experiences through their works, and had several in tears by the close of the show. 

 

"Greatness is not an option. Greatness is an expectation." -Poetic Prophecy

 

I sat down with the evening's host, Edward Benton, during intermission to hear some more about the event's history, and the meaning of B.L.A.C.K.

What does B.L.A.C.K mean to you?

"This event is more than the acronym… B.L.A.C.K. as a symbolic thing, represents a moment in time… We get to gather in this packed venue, and share a meal and celebrate each other. We get to celebrate a lot of women at this event as well, which I think is incredible. One of the things we tried to do this year was give a lot more exposure to these artists… and this is such a beautiful thing to celebrate."

How did this event become what it is today?

"This is year number 4... I’m fortunate to be surrounded by some of the wild, creative, innovating thinkers of CNU… we love to try new things. When we see a night like this, we say, 'Yes! It worked. Let’s try something crazier next time…Who needs exposure? How can everyone win?' Too often on college campuses we gather in forms of competition. How often do we get together to celebrate each other? That’s why we’re here."

Why is this event so important on our campus?

"For us, this is important because we get to celebrate a side of history—a side of culture—that isn’t often talked about in newspapers and other media. We have this narrative of black entertainers in the world. They're the famous ones: singers, rappers, athletes—but if you look at these performers here, these are undergraduate students, students pursuing graduate degrees We even have a US Naval Sailor here. His career aspiration is to be a poet and public speaker. That’s a beautiful thing. We get to talk about that… I get to celebrate everyone who showed up to share their talent with the world.

What you should see here is a reflection of yourself in whatever form that may take."

You can check out any of the artists featured at B.L.A.C.K here:

Juanski (Rapper): @drjuanski

Anthony Hyland (Poet/Motivational Speaker/Author): @anthonyihyland

Sydney Neary (Singer): Youtube

Jayne (Singer/Songwriter): @vibewithjt and @j.alllison

Derick Lee Stephenson, Jr. (Poet/Author): @justdamessenger

Jon Echols (Singer/Rapper): @thetenthmusic_ & "Coliseum Dreams" on all platforms

Zay (Rapper): @zaycrzy & Man of My Word EP on all platforms

Liesl Michelle (Singer/Songwriter): @Liesl_Michelle & "Wither Away" on all platforms