People of Color (POC) Empowerment Week started Sunday, Feb. 17, and ended last Saturday, Feb. 23. To celebrate Black History Month and POC themselves, many events and activities were held during this week.
POC Empowerment Week has been an annual event at Lawrence for the past several years. It allows POC on campus to unify themselves and to elevate their voices. This is also a celebration of Black History Month, which began as a means for commemorating important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.
The kick-off dinner on Feb. 17 was a celebratory dinner that introduced the speakers to come. The movie “The Hate U Give” was showed in the Warch Campus Center Cinema. It was based on the 2017 novel of the same name by Angie Thomas that focuses on the racist problem of police brutality.
On Feb. 19, there was an open-mic event in Sankofa House. A spoken-word poet and activist from Philadelphia was invited on the following day.
South Los Angeles-based Latin band Sin Color came to LU for a special performance. “Crisia Regalado, lead singer of the band Sin Color (Without Color), mixes their sound of bossa nova, cumbia and disco through indie pop, which sparks a shimmering movement and dance experience for their audience,” according to the band’s Facebook page. They transform traditional styles of music into pop soundscapes.
Brienne Colston and Jaz Astwood, two Lawrence alumnae with New York City-based Brown Girl Recovery, facilitated a conversation on community accountability on Feb. 22.
Brown Girl Recovery is an organization in the Bronx that “aims to create avenues of support and community for black and brown folks through innovative and social justice-based programming, workshops and events,” according to its website.
The ending event last Saturday was Cultural Expressions. It was to celebrate the end of Black History Month. This showcase expressed all black identities by way of dance, poetry, song and more. The main goal of this event according to the organizers was to “acknowledge the accomplishments of POC and to come together as a community to uplift each other and to have a good time.” Sophomore Awa Badiane, president of Lawrence’s Black Student Union (BSU), said the Excellence Ball was added this year to provide a more significant launch to Empowerment Week.
Krystin Williams, the current president of All Is One: Empowering Young Women of Color (AIO) was the main organizer of the POC Empowerment Week. AIO aims to help bring attention and awareness to young women of color at LU. Their purpose is “to promote the love, togetherness and support women should have for each other,” according to its website.
Diversity and Intercultural Center, Black Student Union (BSU), Lawrence Asian Diaspora Alliance (LADA) and Alianza helped to host all the events.
Admission for all of the student-organized events was free. All of the events were open to the public.