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Open Mic Night concludes Black History Month with connection

Lane-O+performs+during+the+Black+History+Month+Closing+Open+Mic+Night+on+February+29%2C+2024.
Collegian | Daryn Whitmoyer
Musical artist Lane-O performs during the Black History Month Closing: Open Mic Night at Colorado State University Feb. 29.

As February came to an end, the Black History Month Closing: Open Mic Night went all out with love and upbeat energy from students, staff and performers.

The Open Mic Night was held at the Iris & Michael Smith Alumni Center Feb. 29. The event provided a space for staff and students to share their creativity and messages of perseverance and unity. Black-owned small business vendors were also open around the alumni center.

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Olive White Eagle-Dodson, a junior at Colorado State University, was the master of ceremonies for the night and hit it off alongside Destiny Hardney, co-founder of the Dream Create Inspire Tour. Ice cream was served, and Hardney led a mindfulness exercise before the microphone was opened to speakers.

White Eagle-Dodson, Hardney and other CSU students spoke at the podium to recite original poems and personal stories. Many of the presentations were centered on social injustice and individual growth.

“I’ve never seen anybody put so much emphasis onto the Black future rather than the Black history. I think that portion stands out, and everything that we’ve done thus far has been kind of reigniting that theme over and over.” –Joshua Duran, United Men of Color president

Jakye Nunley, a first-year student at CSU and secretary for United Men of Color, took the stage and changed the pace to perform a rap titled “9 a.m. the West of Boulder.” Nunley participated in several Black History Month events, such as the Real Talk discussions, the Black Faculty/Staff and Student Luncheon and the Hair/Fashion Show.

“I think that students were really involved and engaged in what was going on,” Nunley said. “Students were embracing and really taking in all of the great work that went behind into making this new month what it was.”

Raps were also performed by the Dream Create Inspire Tour members, Lane-O, Wayne Watts and RO$$AY. The DCI Tour leads a mission of intergenerational healing and liberation through creative expression and workshops.

All three artists kept the positive energy flowing as the night concluded with singing and dancing with the students and staff. Nunley and Black/African American Cultural Center Director Duan Ruff took the mic to freestyle some of their own verses among the huddle of people.

When the microphone was passed to the United Men of Color President Joshua Duran, he said the line, “All love, no hate,” which initiated the repetition of the motto vocalized by all in the room.

Duran, a senior at CSU, is also involved in the organization Black Definition, which oversaw the development of the theme Black Destiny Month: Redesigning Our Future.

“I’ve never seen anybody put so much emphasis onto the Black future rather than the Black history,” Duran said. “I think that portion stands out, and everything that we’ve done thus far has been kind of reigniting that theme over and over.”

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Black Destiny Month: Redesigning our Future has validated how Black students are taking charge of their future and defining their culture, innovations and community instead of solely focusing on the negative parts of Black history.

B/AACC organized and hosted several events throughout February, including movie nights, a themed dinner at Ram’s Horn Dining Center, dance classes at Category is… Ballroom! and a performance from Coast Contra during the Hair/Fashion Show.

“It’s beautiful how these students have created the most kind, loving community,” said Nina Askew, B/AACC student development and retention coordinator.

First-year CSU students Seanna Bucknor and Liv Hughes both said they enjoyed the Real Talk discussions and valued the theme Black Destiny Month entailed.

“It was a good moment for us to just focus on the future,” Hughes said. “Putting that destiny aspect into the month, it just gives us a new form or just a new idea where this isn’t just what we should be stuck on. It’s more of what we’re making for ourselves.”

Reach Cadence Cardona at life@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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