Authors, City College students perform as part of Black History Month

City College alumna Kisha Phillips, student Malcolme Muttaqee read their books at the Black Box Theater

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Melisa Cabello-Cuahutle

Malcolme Muttaqee reading his book, "I Should Have Never Joined a Gang" at at the Black Box Theater. Photo by Melisa Cabello-Cuahutle/City Times

Candyce Raiford and and D’Marcus Andrus both standing and performing at City College.
Melisa Cabello-Cuahutle
Students Candyce Raiford and D’Marcus Andrus performing at City College. Photo by Melisa Cabello-Cuahutle/City Times

City College student Malcolme Morgan arrived from class at the Black Box Theater to perform a rap-along of his children’s book. On stage, he is Malcolme Muttaqee, author and illustrator of “I Should Have Never Joined a Gang: A Rap-Along Storybook.”

The book is about a kid who is peer pressured into joining a gang, and how he has to deal with the consequences. 

Muttaqee wrote his book because there weren’t any books out there on the subject of gangs and peer pressure, but he felt there was a need for them.

“This actual book came from sitting down, getting in trouble with the law myself and being incarcerated. I turned lemons into lemonade,” Muttaqee said. “Quitting is not in my nature. I knew I was going to be doing time but one thing I didn’t want to do is waste time.”

Muttaqee’s performance was part of the Day of the Arts event, part of the celebrations of Black History Month, hosted by Umoja, a community that supports African American and other historically underrepresented students.

The event took place last Thursday and it also featured author and City alumni Kisha Phillips, alongside musical performances from City students Candyce Raiford, Mustafa Mookyslim, Daija Jones and D’Marcus Andrus, with Andrus even asking Raiford to freestyle with him on stage after listening to her music.

The audience was supportive of the performances, rapping alongside Muttaqee and cheering on Phillips when her poetry book got emotional.

“I loved the one about love, it (connected) with me because I give love to people and they don’t give me love back, so it makes me feel like I am not important,” student and UMOJA member Marie Migambi said.

Kisha Phillips smiling at the camera while selling her books.
Melisa Cabello-Cuahutle
After her presentation, Kisha Phillips sold copies of her book. Photo by Melisa Cabello-Cuahutle/City Times

Phillips’ book is about her struggles with self-love, ADD and domestic violence.

“Whatever challenges come in your way, it’s not gonna last forever,” the author said during her presentation.

Although the day included diverse themes and performances, the community’s focus was to celebrate Black History Month.

“A lot of us have been shamed about our history. A lot of people … don’t know how to express it. So if we can use a platform like this to just (be) comfortable enough to talk about it and share, then I feel like this is very important,” City alumni and UMOJA’s assistant coordinator Romelia Turner said.

On the subject, Muttaqee said, “study history, but also realize we are tomorrow’s history.”