People gathered to close out Black History Month at the "For the Culture" coffee house and open mic night, featuring comedian Ronnie Jordan and student performances, in The Current at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
The event -- new to Black History Month celebrations -- was organized by Associate Director of Multicultural Affairs Morgan Russell and sophomore Akeya Fortson-Brown. Russell said that the Office of Multicultural Affairs had been behind most of the events throughout the month, but had also partnered with organizations like the Black Student Alliance.
A big part of black culture is expressing oneself, Fortson-Brown said.
“I wanted something fun to end the month off with, something that we can use to express ourselves,” Fortson-Brown said.
Russell said the hope was to close out the month with an event that encompassed students showing their pride in an open and welcome environment. Fortson-Brown thought it would be a great way to bring students together, Russell said, praising her as a “phenomenal student leader."
The event was advertised with flyers in the Tyler Haynes Commons and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, as well as put into groups chats and featured on Spiderbytes. Russell and Fortson-Brown worked with the Center for Student Involvement to hold the event, which helped them provide comedian Ronnie Jordan as MC.
Coffee and Krispy Kreme donuts were offered as Jordan opened up the evening, speaking for about 20 minutes before the first student performers. Jordan's candid jokes included ones about roommate issues, white privilege, broke college kids, sex and marijuana.
Candles sat by framed flyers with prominent African American figures like Oprah Winfrey, and beanbags were placed in front of the stage, creating a cozy setting.
Jordan quipped that he originally thought that they were photos in memoriam, and spurred uncomfortable laughter with his joke suggesting that they were photos of students who had committed suicide.
“What’s the water feature for?” asked Jordan, referring to the lake. “Is it just white privilege, wasting water?...We could’ve put three elementary schools for poor black children, but other than that…”
“I’m going to get banned from this school,” Jordan said, prompted by the audience’s laughter, which continued throughout the night. He would also later apologize for swearing, furthering the audience’s laughter.
Between each performer, Jordan returned to the stage as a transition and brought additional comedy, addressing students on the beanbags in front of him and others walking to The Cellar.
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Senior Micah Hunter-Chang, an audience member who performed at the event, applauded Jordan, saying he was great.
Junior Kobie Turner said not only was Jordan funny, but Turner appreciated how Jordan tied his comedy into the event’s theme of Black History Month.
“I do think that this brings out a different group of people than other Black History Month events, so it’s a good way to get other people,” Turner said, who played guitar as an accompanist to two fellow students and for his own vocal performance.
Although students had already signed up to perform, others signed up throughout the night, which was encouraged. Performances went on for about an hour and a half as the list grew with names of students and even one alumnus who felt inspired to share their talent.
The alumnus's act was the last of the evening. He said that he had not originally planned on performing, but that the atmosphere was welcoming.
While some students mentioned how they frequently attended coffeehouse events, others such as Hunter-Chang said he was there to support friends.
Numerous students stepped up into the spotlight, singing a variety of pieces, including “Halo” by Beyonce and "Best Friend" by Rex Orange County. As they performed, the audience clapped along and called out comments and praises of support.
Students seemed to appreciate the performances of songs and poetry along with the honest and blunt approach to comedy.
The Current remained full throughout the event, with some staying the entire duration and others stopping by for 10 to 15 minutes. The room held students with different backgrounds and ages, and grabbed the attention of many walking through THC. Students and even some parents stopped to watch and listen with surprised and intrigued expressions on their faces.
Contact news writer Eileen Pomeroy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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