Black Heritage Night to show off “cultural fusion

Meghan McCallum

Since the early 1990s, Lawrence has held an event in celebration of Kwanzaa, an African-American holiday running from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. For the past three years however, this celebration has become Black Heritage Night. Lawrence’s fourth annual Black Heritage Night, hosted by the Black Organization of Students, will take place this Saturday, Feb. 5, in the Buchanan Kiewit Center.
“Students wanted to expand the Kwanzaa celebration and focus on how it relates to African-American heritage and history,” said Rod Bradley, dean of multicultural affairs and faculty advisor for BOS. “The students have been giving it a new twist,” he added.
Bradley described the night as having a “cultural fusion” theme that will showcase BOS interests with a dinner, thematic music, and some presentations and performances by students. The night’s festivities will point out the importance of African-American culture in both U.S. and world history.
Komeh Maligi, BOS president, said that the student presentations will include short skits and monologues. Some of the presentations will incorporate black leaders from three different countries: Marcus Garvey and Nanny of the Maroons from Jamaica, Nelson Mandela from Africa, and W.E.B. DuBois and Maya Angelou from the United States. According to Maligi, there will be a “unique cultural mixture” at the end of the showcase.
“It’s a way to engage both the Lawrence and Appleton communities,” Bradley added. He said that the meal serves as a time to socialize while eating food with cultural significance. The meal and presentations will last about two hours total.
BOS participates in other activities throughout the year, but Black Heritage Night is their main annual event. “The students really have a good time [organizing it],” Bradley said. He also noted that there has been consistent student input each year.
According to Bradley, there has been very good turnout for Black Heritage Night over the past three years, including even Lawrence alumni. This year seems to be no exception, as tickets have been selling quickly.
Students wishing to attend the event may sign up at the BOS table in Downer, which will be up all week – the price is an ID swipe. Tickets may also be purchased at the Diversity Center and the Box Office. Tickets are $10 for staff, faculty and the general public, and $4 for children 12 and under. The doors for Black Heritage Night open at 5:30, and the dinner will start at 6.