The 4th annual ‘Moments of Color’ showcase was held on Tuesday, Feb. 5 kicking off Black History Month by honoring a variety of important African American figures throughout history.
Located in the Student Center’s ballroom, the event attracted crowds throughout the night. EMU student organizations, an array of all kinds, chose historical figures significant to them, or their organization and devoted a station table to them.
Guests were encouraged to walk around the room and acquire knowledge about a handful of remarkable historical figures and the impact they had on black history, that they may not have known of prior.
Lining the room were upwards of a dozen groups, each dedicated to a different individual. All contained colorful posters filled with information to share, along with details on who the students are as a group. Some were even prepared with candy, dance routines and poems to display.
Hosted by Kings of Color, the night was designed to bring awareness to black historical figures who aren’t as widely acknowledged. Kings of Color is an EMU organization that, according to their Facebook page, “aspires to better their environment through knowledge, academics, diversity and community service.”
“Kings of Color Incorporated decided that we should have a black history showcase. However, most people know the more ‘famous figures’ such as: Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Thurgood Marshall. So, we wanted to shine light on the hidden figures, especially during Black History Month. To do this we invited different organizations to collaborate with us and give more information on people who have been beneficial in black history. We wanted to make sure that each group was doing something different and could give a unique story,“ said Alfred Sheffield, Vice President of Kings of Color.
Kings of Color’s station was dedicated to Mansa Musa. Sultan of the Malian Empire during the 1300s, he was the richest man to ever live. He gave away much of his wealth and highlighted the importance of education and trade. Providing a modern day twist to their explanation, the Kings of Color compared Musa to T'Challa (played by Chadwick Boseman), the king of Wakanda, in the 2018 movie “Black Panther.”
The National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) of EMU chose Ida B. Wells as their historical figure. Their Political Action Chairman, A’Rhyanna Tyus, spoke of Wells' importance to their organization.
“[Ida B. Wells] originally wanted to advocate for the National Association of Advancement of Colored Women, but the co-founder, though loving her idea, wanted to broaden it. It eventually became the National Association of Advancement of Colored People. Ida B Wells was a civil rights activist, a journalist and she wrote a lot about segregation. She advocated for equality, not just equity.”
Supplying further information on the NAACP of EMU, Tyus explained why she joined, as well as providing a statement she hopes will act as a takeaway.
“I wanted to join an organization that would help me with connections and overall understanding of my history. In the long run, too, not just short term. I wanted to join something where I could actually benefit my communities all over; not just in college, but outside too. There is a big misconception that the NAACP is an organization only for people of color, which it is not. The NAACP was founded with both black and white people. It is an organization advocating for the commonwealth of all people, not just black people.”
Other groups presented information on Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett, Don H. Barden, Felipe Luciano, Katherine Johnson and Madame CJ Walker, among others.
The payoff varied from person to person, but all shared a common theme: an expansion of knowledge.
“I hope people can take away that black history isn’t just always negative or violence oriented. There are beautiful parts; black people participated in art, as well,“ added Xamari Long, part of the Diversion Dance Troupe’s demonstration
Vice President Sheffield reinforced his and Kings of Color’s aspirations for the event.
“I hope people can learn more about historical figures in black history. Not a lot of students, I would say, come to college knowing a lot about black history. Especially seeing that it is only talked about in schools for one month, so we definitely want to shine more light on figures who aren’t necessarily in textbooks or in the news all the time. We want to extend our knowledge within the community.”