Nearly 100 students took in performances of gospel singing, fraternity step marching and open-mic poetry as City College hosted the first Black History Month celebration in at least eight years in Gorton Quad on Feb. 17.
Denise Whisenhunt, dean of student affairs, said students, staff and faculty have been talking about having another celebration for years, to provide something for the students and the community to raise awareness of Black History Month.
The celebration got rolling with music studies student Calvin Sutton singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” also known as “The Negro National Anthem.” Child development student Gail Welford then belted out a gospel song from her soon to be released album, “Historical Queen.”
“(Historical Queen is) for all black women that feel trapped and want to come out. We are the queens that no one really ever wanted to see,” Welford said.
The Omega Psi Phi fraternity made up of San Diego State University alumi highlighted the celebration by marching the history of their Black Greek organization used to recruit members and publicize their work. The lively, fast-paced march performance featured Omega Psi Phi brothers Robert Rush, Victor Baker and Robert Frierson shouting and barking the history and tenants of their fraternity.
Omega Psi Phi is also non-profit organization which mentors male youths, sponsoring them in the tenants of manhood, scholarship, perseverance and uplift.
“After the steppers came and stomped on that branch right there and flattened it, everybody started getting going,” said student Antonio Savage.
City College English Professor Farrell Foreman began the open-mic poetry segment by reading, “Black Man, Unfinished” by Haki R. Madhubuti. Angela Dance, a political science student, read poet Maya Angelou’s work with burning conviction.
“Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise,” wrote Maya Angelou in her poem “Still I rise.”
The crowd shouted, “Encore!” for urban studies student Eric Henson after his first original poetry performance on modern African American culture. Henson did one more piece before free-styling for the crowd.
Chef Big Daddy E’s Catering served a Soul Food menu of gumbo, peach barbeque chicken, collard greens, macaroni salad and bread pudding.
“The gumbo was to die for and the bread pudding was awesome,” said Dr. Marilyn Harvey of the City College Foundation.
“It was good as a new beginning for City College,” Awana Payne, classified senate president, said about the celebration. “(There will be) bigger, better things in the years to come.”