On Saturday, February 11th, I attended the Students of Every Diversity Club's Kuumba Ujima Black History Month Showcase held in the Cazenovia College Catherine Cummings Theater. Let me start by saying wow. Simply, wow. SoED did a fantastic job putting this showcase together.
They did an excellent job including art from both the on-campus and local community, with student acts from the Infinity Step Team, Walid Ibrahim, Lloyd Mqalo, La'shawn Sylvester, Salat Ali, and more.
The showcase opened with an energetic rap performance from Jaleel Campbell and Ibro Badji, followed by Dashe beautifully singing the Black National Anthem, "Lift Every Voice." Her performance left me with goosebumps. Next came a dynamic African drum trio, Signature Soul. This band kept the audience engaged right to the last second, with their incredible talent, and not to mention, their pretty awesome dance moves. The Cazenovia Infinity Step Team took the stage next and blew the crowd away, as they always do, with their dance routine. La'Shawn gave us a demonstration of a Caribbean block party and kept the crowd at the edge of their seats while performers took turns Double-Dutching on stage. Signature Soul, a poetic duo, earned a standing ovation after performing three spoken word poems about the current state of the black community. The show continued with performances from Jay Shaun, Walid, Tareeq and Michael, Lloyd, and many, many more.
One of the acts that truly stood out to me was the speech given by alum, Joshua King, spokesperson for HIV Stops With Me. King spoke about his personal experience battling HIV as a recent college grad and how he used his illness to motivate him, rather than hinder him, to continue his career in fashion and helping others struggling with the same illness. His speech was truly inspiring and emotional. If you or someone you know is struggling with HIV, visit their website for information on resources and treatment.
The showcase ended on a powerful note, closing with a presentation and poem by Salat Ali, about what it is like to be a Somalian Muslim refugee. His story was moving and emotional, as he spoke about how the current Muslim travel band directly affects his family. For the past several years, Salat's mother has been trying to leave the refugee camp and come to America. Finally, this year, she was finally able to come close to the completion of the process...until the travel ban was inacted. Even though there was a halt placed on the travel ban, it is still extremely difficult for Muslim refugees to leave their camps and come to America for freedom. Salat's family is still continuing to have hope and trying to get his mother to America. Hopefully, they will be successful. Salat also shared his daily struggle of battling stereotypes and micro-aggression towards his identity and community. He opened our eyes to what it is really like for a refugee.
Overall, this showcase shed light on many important topics, while bringing attention to so many local artists working towards bettering the community and exposing everyone to true black culture. If you didn't get to go this year, make sure you attend next year. It is SO worth it.
Thank you, SoED, for putting on this phenominal showcase and for sharing such a wonderful culture with the community.