BOS Celebrates Cultural Expressions

Lindsey Ahlen

The Black Organization of Students held an annual event titled “Cultural Expressions: Beyond Racial Boundaries” to celebrate Black history and culture Feb. 7 in the Buchanan Kiewit Recreation Center. This year’s event focused on inter-race relations, including those in the Lawrence community.
The night began with a catered dinner. Students, faculty and community members gathered around candlelit tables to converse, eat and enjoy the performances.
The night’s entertainment portion began with an old-time African-American song. Next, performers dressed in their BOS T-shirts to discuss what they appreciated about their heritage. Brittany Johnson, president of BOS, said, “We are sharing [our culture] with our audience.”
Performers presented skits, poetry and prose, as well as vocal and instrumental music. Questions posed through the creative portion of the program included “Why is the word ‘black’ always associated with struggle?” and “Does my sexiness upset you?” Positive acclamations included “Live for the best” and “Live a life advocating for anti-exclusivity.”
After the live performances, a documentary directed by Marvanna Avery-Cash, vice President of BOS, was screened. The theme of the documentary, which was about diversity and racial boundaries at Lawrence, was the question “What comes to mind when you think of Living Beyond Racial Boundaries?”
The documentary illustrates the diverse views of Lawrence students and staff on the issue. Cash interviewed many different people for this film. Ideas about “Living Beyond Racial Boundaries” included: “The idea of everybody not excluding anybody is idealistic, and it will always be a problem and cannot be avoided,” “impossible,” and “at LU everyone is very accepting — no instance of exclusion.” A professor was also quoted, saying, “On the LU campus, are we living beyond racial boundaries? No, I do not think so.”
The mission of BOS is “to educate the LU community about the Black experience through the celebration of black culture and is a social support system for its members.” Derrell Acon, member of BOS, said, “You do not have to be Black to be in a black organization of students.” He added that Black history can be celebrated by anyone who appreciates the talent and culture of those of African American heritage.
Sirgourney Tanner, another member of BOS, seemed to sum up the mission of the event as well as of the organization, saying, “We are all tied down to this word, hindering the human race from seeing beyond [the word “black”] … we are getting there slowly, but surely.”
To watch Marvanna Avery-Cash’s documentary, contact the Office of Multicultural Affairs. BOS meets Fridays at 5 p.m. in the diversity center.