Black History Luncheon celebrates culture

J’Mari HughesCopy Editor

Every February, Black History Month is celebrated to commemorate African Americans throughout U.S. history. To business major Simon McIntyre, a senior, Black History Month showcases black creativity and culture and what strong black men and women have done in the past.

“Inventions and innovations [have] brought us to where we are today, providing the space where we can have these conversations,” he said. “I feel like, for me, black history isn’t just a month, it’s something I live daily.”

The Multicultural Center hosted its annual luncheon Feb. 11 in Connecticut Hall. The event featured an array of cultural cuisines, from jerk chicken and curried goat to river rice and collard greens, as well as live music and storytelling from the Carribean Vibe steel drum band, saxophonist David Davis and folk dancer Miss Matty Lou.

The band gave students the opportunity to hear different types of music that are part of the black heritage. Members played R&B and jazz, as well as Island music such as calypso and soca. Miss Matty Lou also shared Negro spirituals and told listeners about black history. Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs Dian Brown-Albert called it all “the joy that helps us to celebrate the rich history of black history.”

“What I like is the community spirit that’s in here,” she said. “Everybody’s smiling. They’re enjoying the food.

So this event brings people together so that we can all celebrate Black History together, and you also got a little bit of history about the music, and learn a little bit about black folks and folks who have come before us.”

According to Caribbean Vibe member Duane Huff, the band, based out of New Haven, has been performing at Southern for the past six years. He said Southern is like home to them and that they love to bring cultural enrichment through music to the campus.

“My favorite part of performing here is seeing students enjoy the music, and the festivities and the actions. Sometimes the students even sing and “My favorite part of performing here is seeing students enjoy the music, and the festivities and the actions. Sometimes the students even sing and sit in with us,” he said. “It just creates a festive atmosphere and it’s always a happy time here at Southern. Everyone is great.”

The band played music for “all colors,” Hoff said. Steel drums, a Trinidadian instrument, and timbalies, Latin percussion instruments were used to play Latin, salsa and reggae music. Having a sense of where people come from, he said, shows that despite being from different places, everyone is family and in order to enrich one another, people must learn about one another.

While they played, Janice “Miss Matty Lou” Hart danced throughout Conn. Hall with a maraca in her hand and a basket on her head. With her, she had antiques from the 50s and 60s, such as a game of jacks and a cleaning brush made from a coconut, to show students and take them “back to the motherland.”

“I just think learning the culture and learning your roots is of prominent importance to me because the world is so technologically advanced,” she said. “We have lost that natural touch like storytelling. Even the storytelling in your house, you know, your mom made something — a special dish, you just always enjoyed it, but you never asked how she made it. I know when they pass on, that recipe dies with them.”

Hart said there are so many positive elements to Black History Month, which she said is every month to her. If black people knew how powerful they are, she said, they would be so much more advanced. Though they may be unsung heroes, she said, they need to start “singing from the mountain top.”

“I think especially African-American students need to know their heritage and although we are a group of black people, we are from different walks of life,” she said. “So my experience is not your experience.”

Brown-Albert said this month is for recognizing and honoring the folks of the past. As a black person, she said, it helps her to assess where she is and what she needs to do to reach her goals, appreciate others and help herself, as she said she knows the sacrifices that were made before her.

“This inspires me to continue to work hard and achieve my goals,” she said. “This is a great event because of the atmosphere. It’s just a really nice opportunity to get together in honor of Black History Month.

Photo Credit: J’Mari Hughes

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