Black Heritage Dinner

Katy Hillbo

Members of the Black Organization of Students celebrated and shared their diverse backgrounds with the community at the seventh annual Celebration of Black Heritage dinner Saturday, Feb. 2.The event included foods from a wide range of cultures as well as musical and theatrical performances, dance, poetry, artwork and personal accounts from BOS members of their experiences.

The dinner was initially created as a Kwanzaa celebration. However, in recent years, the date was changed to the first week in February to coincide with Black History Month.

The dinner became a more general celebration of black heritage — a fairly natural transition according to Sirgourney Tanner, president of BOS, since “cultural expression was already a theme of the dinner.”

This year’s theme, “Coming from Where I’m from: Celebrating the African Diaspora at Lawrence,” gave a nod to the song “Coming from Where I’m from” by Anthony Hamilton and the term “Diaspora” which refers to the dispersion of a people.

This theme encouraged the celebration of the many different backgrounds that the performers come from and the diverse heritages that are present within a collective black heritage.

As freshman Sadé Parsons said, “We’re the same ethnicity, but racially dealt with in different ways.”

The event held true to the theme, with food and performances that celebrated many diverse cultures and heritages. Food from various countries was served, and the performances highlighted culturally and historically significant musical and dance styles as well as personal and modern prose.

The performance part of the night consisted of several different acts. Musical performances by solo vocalists, the Lawrence University Jazz Band and a steel drum band highlighted music from many different genres.

A theatrical piece written by Aaron Walker gave a modern account of racial discrimination based on stereotypes. A poetry selection by sophomore Marvanna Avery-Cash promoted a message of unity.

Personal accounts from BOS members of their experiences growing up gave individualized reflections on the issues that black people face. Towards the end of the event, members of BOS performed the Djembe, Merengue, Calypso, and Carnival styles of dance.

The dinner is an opportunity for members of BOS to celebrate their heritage and also for members of the community to come together, learn from each other, and enjoy themselves.

“It is important for the entire campus and the Fox Cities community to be a community, and what better way to encourage that than with food and entertainment?” said Erik Farley, assistant dean of students for multicultural affairs and advisor to BOS.

As people left the dinner, chatting and laughing with each other, it was clear that Farley was right.