Celebrations wrap up Black History Month

In the closing days of the University’s Black History Month celebrations, the Yale African Students’ Association and Yale West Indian Students’ Association’s second annual cultural show drew enthusiastic applause from a large audience in Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall Saturday night.

The theme of the show, called Upendo na Amani, was “love and peace.” During the two acts, each consisting of seven performances, students showcased their singing, dancing and poetic talents. YASA’s African skit, titled “A Day in 2055,” closed part one on a humorous note, featuring a send-up of rapper 50 Cent called 50 Naira. The fashion show at the end of the second half of the show closed the evening with colorful and vibrant African fashions.

The cultural show was one of the last in a series of events marking Black History Month. Throughout February, various groups — including the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale, residential colleges, academic departments and other organizations — sponsored panel discussions, screenings, performances, lectures and receptions in honor of Black History Month.

Adjoa Boateng ’07, who attended the cultural show last year, said Saturday night’s show was much better.

“This year, there’s a lot more participation,” she said, adding that she especially enjoyed the YASA skit.

During the 20-minute break between part one and part two of the show, audience members visited the Afro-Caribbean jewelry market and tasted Caribbean and African foods.

Paul Kwengwere, a 2004 Yale World Fellow from Malawi, shared Boateng’s appreciation for the skit and said he hoped the fashion show in the second part would build on its themes.

“The skit was very funny and demonstrated the students’ range,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the fashion show because I want to see if they’ll portray the culture as well as they did in the play.”

The various events throughout the month have delved into many areas of the African-American experience. A showing of the film “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till,” as well as a series of short films documenting the lives of Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King and Daisaku Ikeda focused on the history of civil rights movements. Bruce Jackson of Boston University explored contemporary identity issues in his lecture “Reuniting African-Americans with Their Ancestral Roots.” An exhibit, “Our Visual Soul,” displayed the art of black undergraduate and graduate students.

Kahina Robinson ’06, who organized an event, “Our Literate Soul,” featuring poems, songs and readings of prose, said the performances covered a wide range of subjects.

“It was meant to be a celebration of the talent that Yale has,” Robinson said.

Many of the events brought prominent visitors to campus. Paul Rusesabagina, who was portrayed in the recent film “Hotel Rwanda,” spoke at the Law School last week in an event co-sponsored by the Afro-American Cultural Center, and author Carol Ione, who wrote “Pride of the Family: Four Generations of American Women of Color,” spoke at the New Haven Free Public Library Feb. 19.

Rodney Reynolds, founder of the heritage magazine “American Legacy,” was presented with an award at the first annual Legacy Ball, held in the Saybrook College dining hall last weekend. Adrian Hopkins ’06, the editor in chief of “Sphere” magazine and one of the ball’s organizers, said he hopes to present an award each year at the ball to “somebody who keeps the legacy of black history alive.”

The culminating event of the University’s celebration of Black History Month will be an undergraduate production of “The Wiz,” which will be performed at the Off-Broadway Performance Space on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

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