Aug 13, 2020

African Peoples’ History Month continues with Africana Culture Night

Gladys Garcia/The Collegian

Music, art and history filled the Satellite Student Union stage Thursday, Feb. 17 during the annual Africana Culture Night.

“It was a nice feel on how black people have influenced music and art,” sophomore Natacha Woodson said.

“Black influence on art: the unknown culture” was the theme of this year’s event, which was put on by the Black Students United group at Fresno State.

“Every year we try to pick a new theme,” BSU president Kiani Shaw said. “Sometimes we base the theme off of the black history month theme on the local website but this year we generated the theme off of group ideas.”

The theme was selected to show and recognize the achievements of African Americans within music and art throughout time.

“It’s one of the most important events the BSU does,” Shaw said.

The event traced the influence of African Americans in art and music from the 1900s until present day. Historic narratives, which were presented by faculty and staff, student skits and performances, were used to portray every era.

Psychology major Nkeiru Uzegbu said she was pleased by the way the show was structured and the way professors took a part within it.

“I really enjoyed how they involved the different professors within the show,” Uzegbu said. “It kind of made it more meaningful [to learn] about the history.”

The 1900s to the 1920s were described by a narrative from Francine Oputa, Women’s Resource Center coordinator, in which she spoke about the establishment and importance of African American sororities and fraternities. After the narrative, Oputa presented all the African American Greek organizations on campus.

Every sorority and fraternity talked about the history behind their organization, the things they have accomplished and their most recognized members.

The 1930s to the 1970s were portrayed by a narrative from Professor Dr. James Walton on the history of the Black Panthers and the importance of the popular show, Soul Train, in the African American culture. The narrative was brought to life by a skit about the Black Panthers performed by BSU and a reenactment of a Soul Train episode.

The era that described the years from the 1980s up to now, was started off with a narrative by Tawanda Kitchen and six performances. Among those performances was a reenactment of a popular 1990 movie called “House Party,” hip-hop dance numbers, a rapper and a hip-hop violin player.

This annual event was started in 2003 as part of Fresno State’s Diversity Week Program. The idea behind the event was to highlight and expose the different and diverse ethnic backgrounds, cultures, heritages and community of the Africana people to the Fresno State community.

To Shaw the event signifies much more than that.

“This event [shows] that we can all get together, we can work together and we can do an event together,” Shaw said. “We can come together and be productive.”

However, Uzegbu said she finds it difficult to spread that message without community support.

“It would have been nice if more of the community members came to see it so they could see what the students are doing in the African American community,” Uzegbu said. “You just feel connected more when you learn about another culture.”

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