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Thursday, May 23, 2024
The Observer

Black Renaissance celebrates art, talent of Black students at Notre Dame

Performance by students in the Dance Africa number.
Performance by students in the “Dance Africa” number.

Washington Hall’s Mainstage Theatre was packed with students and families Friday evening for the first Black Renaissance event.

The show was hosted by the Black Student Association (BSA) and celebrated the artistic talents of Black students at Notre Dame. The event featured a variety of performances including dancing, poetry, music and singing. 

Before the lights dimmed and the curtains opened, the co-presidents of BSA, juniors Kareema Green and Jessica Ashman, welcomed the audience and introduced the performances organized in honor of Black History Month. 

Green said that in past years, there haven’t been many big events on campus specifically for Black History Month. BSA wanted to do something special this year “to show the student population, not just Black students, that we celebrate Black History Month just as seriously as any other holiday.”

Green said they were considering inviting a guest speaker, but instead chose to put on Black Renaissance because they wanted the event to revolve around the Black community here on campus. 

“We wanted to do something where the whole community was involved,” she said. “We started organizing people we knew who could sing and dance on our campus and in our Black community.” 

The student performances were broken up by short videos that discussed the history of Black History Month and featured influential figures from the Civil Rights Movement.

The videos also previewed the student performances. For example, they explained how tap dancing originated at the crossroads of African and Irish American dance, introducing sophomore London Baskerville’s tap performance. Additionally, before junior Faith Woods read the poem “I Sit and Sew,” the Black Lives Matter video “Now, We Transform” was played. 

The show also highlighted student style with two fashion shows. In the diversity of Black hair show, the models rocked styles ranging from curls to afros to durags. In the cultural fashion show, students donned outfits that included a pink 2000s tracksuit, jeans paired with a jean jacket and outfits representing Afro-Caribbean culture.

The first act concluded with junior Fabrice Uwihirwe singing a song he wrote called “Ubuntu.” After the intermission, there was a short skit and students broke out into song, setting the stage for the second half of the performance. 

The show also featured a dance number by RitmoND. 

“We know that in the Latino community, there are some Afro-Latinos, so we wanted to make sure that they were involved as well,” Green said. 

Green said that BSA hopes to partner with other cultural clubs in the future and to have more events for the Black community on campus. 

“We want to have more events where students can come together and enjoy the Black experience here at Notre Dame because, unfortunately for us, it’s not the same as many other students’ [experiences] on campus,” she said. “The Black Student Association is just as important as other clubs and student organizations on campus.”