B/AACC Black History Month: ‘Uniting the Diaspora’

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Collegian | Kota Babcock

Joseph Adenowo portrays Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton on a small stage by the Lory Student Center Theatre along with two other students Jan. 28.

CTV News: JJ Mckinney

Ivy Secrest, Arts and Culture Reporter

On Jan. 28, the Black/African American Cultural Center kicked off Black History Month with an introduction of this year’s theme: “Uniting the Diaspora.” This opening event set the tone for what is shaping up to be an impactful series of events full of fun and educational functions (and the occasional free meal). 

As explained by emcee and Colorado State University student Jasmine Retland, “diaspora” describes the dispersion of people from their homeland, such as Black people from Africa. Uniting the Diaspora is a celebration of Black people and all of the cultures they have impacted while still being united.

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Introduced to the living statues of Fred Hampton and Maya Angelou, attendees were offered a piece of history, an artistic experience and an immersive performance all in one.

The poems, songs and other performances spoke to an aspect of history that is often left whitewashed and misunderstood, which performers communicated to their audience through every aspect imaginable. 

“I love Black History Month,” said Bolu Folarin, an attendee of the program. “It’s a great way to celebrate the Black excellence and the struggles.” 

Joseph Adenowa, who is dressed in all Black to represent civil rights activist Fred Hamptom, stands on stage beside two other men. All of them are wearing sunglasses, and a projector is behind them on the stage they stand on.
Joseph Adenowo portrays Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton onstage at the Black/African American Cultural Center’s Black History Month kickoff Jan. 28. He raised his fist, referencing common imagery in the Black Power movement. (Collegian | Kota Babcock)

Opening with “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” performed by Retland, the tone was set for the evening. She even encouraged the crowd to join her in song, filling the theater with music.

Following Retland, Taya Woodard-Hancock performed a spoken-word performance titled “The Party from The Colored Museum.” This piece discussed being yourself proudly and taking pride in your culture and individuality. 

This was followed by more incredible performances, such as “What a Wonderful World,” performed by Maya Johnson; the living statues of Hampton by Joseph Adenowo; Angelou by Breonna Abuya; and a spoken-word performance, “The Color Black and Grandma’s Recipe,” performed by DeVon Washington. 

The living statues transported viewers into the historical people’s worlds. Performers encouraged audience members to be revolutionaries like Hampton and recognize strong Black women like Angelou in all of their accomplishments. 

This event seized the opportunity to showcase Black cultures, unite the diaspora and celebrate Black excellence.  

“This is the event that kicks off all the other events,” said Andrew Brown, a third-year journalism student and employee of the B/AACC. 

With the goal of encouraging people to continue attending Black History Month events, the kickoff brought a lot of variety and creativity to the stage. With an event-packed month to follow, this kickoff performance included food, drinks and educational value. 

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“Don’t be afraid to involve yourself in more events,” Brown said.

The evening ended with “We Are the World,” performed by Retland, and the closing sentiment that, as a country, we need to do more than Black History Month — there is Black history wherever there are Black people, and that history ought to be acknowledged year-round. 

The rest of this month, the Black/African American Cultural Center will provide several opportunities to participate in Black History Month and celebrate Black excellence.

Reach Ivy Secrest at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @IvySecrest.