Black excellence expressed through poetry
Dressed in all black, and reciting poems, students explained who it was in their life that impacted their culture and character.
The Central Michigan University NAACP chapter hosted the Celebration of Black Excellence Thursday night in the Bovee University Center Mackinaw Room. Members defined what black excellence meant to them.
This year was the first time CMU's NAACP chapter held an event for black history month by incorporating performing arts like poetry.
Romulus senior Jessika Kennedy performed a piece called "Ego-Tripping" by Nikki Giovanni, her favorite poet.
“A lot of her poems have the same type of genre: black empowerment,” Kennedy said. “This specific poem takes you back to the roots, back to Africa. I hold it dearly to my heart and I connect with it really well because it empowers me as a woman.”
Dearborn freshman Caleb Blaine defined black excellence through his 9-year-old brother. He recited his poem, “I am my brother’s keeper, and my brother keeps me.”
Dearborn Heights freshman Caleb Blaine pauses while speaking during the Celebration of Black Excellence event in the UC, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016.
Volunteer Chair Jessika Kennedy emotes while speaking during the Celebration of Black Excellence event in the UC, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016.
An audience member records Salt Lake City freshman Laurel Condé speaking to the crowd during the Celebration of Black Excellence event in the UC, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016.
Aside from reciting poems, the audience was asked a series of questions to interact with each other. These elicited responses of why it was important to celebrate black excellence, why black teachers, doctors, and those in the working field do not receive as much recognition as black people in the entertainment field, and whether or not the black community was aware of their power as individuals to lead legacies.
Macomb freshman Brianna Hatchett said she thought the event was inspiring and eye-opening.
“I think black excellence is having the confidence to be yourself and to influence others in a positive way,” she said. “The poetry was real. It came from the heart.”
Detroit junior Derrick Morris enjoyed the different perspectives each poet had to offer.
“I think stories about how black individuals have impacted (peoples') lives are important because young black college students are in an environment tailored for thinking in excellence," said Morris.