BOS celebrates, educates

Sonia Emmons

For Lawrence students, the festivities of Black History Month begin this Saturday, Feb. 3 with the Celebration of Black Heritage. The event begins at 6 p.m. in the Buchanan Kiewit Center gymnasium and includes dinner and a talent show, all for the small price of one ID swipe.
The celebration is this year’s installment of the annual Lawrence event “Cultural Expressions,” sponsored by Lawrence’s Black Organization of Students. This year’s theme is “Legends in the Making – From Black Face to My Face.”
The event derives its name from a senior theater project by Chris Snapp, titled “Black Face.” The theatrical aspect is central to the event. Every year, the Celebration of Black Heritage presents plays or skits that highlight famous black figures in history.
This year, event organizers wanted instead to draw attention to the activities and achievements of black students at Lawrence by means of a talent show.
The talent show will feature Lawrence students from numerous creative departments, ranging from poets and African dancers to singers and actors.
“Cultural Expressions” has undergone significant change since its conception. It began six years ago as an annual Kwanzaa celebration, but was modified due to the inopportune timing of Kwanzaa in relation to Black History Month.
Kwanzaa, celebrated in December, simply did not have a proper place in February.
There is usually a theme associated with the celebration. This year and in years past, BOS has sought both to explain and explore different aspects of black life. Past themes include “Keys to Prosperity” and “New Beginnings of the Sister.”
Paris Brown, a member of BOS who was active in the organization of the celebration, will sing during Saturday’s program.
She remarked on the profound importance of Lawrence’s Celebration of Black Heritage, along with Black History Month as a whole. “Black history is deeply rooted in American history, thus anyone can relate, appreciate and enjoy it.”
Each year, “Cultural Expressions” attracts 200 to 250 people. With this year’s event, BOS hopes to draw at least that number, if not more.
Brown emphasized the inclusive nature of the celebration. She affirmed, “This event is NOT just for black people, it is for all Americans!” And if not all Americans – most of whom wouldn’t dare brave Appleton’s arctic winds – at least all Lawrentians.
The celebration is sure to impress, enrich and entertain all those in attendance. And seeing as it offers food and a program full of cultural flavor, there could be no better way to celebrate this Black History Month. Just don’t forget your IDs.