Words can often be powerful and highly distinct. Additionally, they carry a unique history, meaning, and value linked to the history of a people. With this in mind, members of Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society sought to discover this connection to African-American history through a display of historical and modern poetry, dance and traditional foods in celebration of Black History Month on Feb. 21.
The themed event, titled “Food for The Soul,” which combined both documentary history and spoken word, centered on early African-American figures such as writer and poet Phyllis Wheatley to more modern representations of Black American culture in the style of Spoken Word poetry as well as dance.
As such, the programming had a goal in mind of bringing awareness to aspects of African-American culture to the larger campus community as an educational tool, and to also serve as a platform to intellectually “feed the soul” while fostering on-going conversations on Black history far beyond a single time frame once per year.
“[The event] celebrates the diversity and community that we have here,” English Professor Shelby Myers said of the event. “The more opportunities we allow students to celebrate that, the better.”
In expressing the vast history of African-American culture, many of the poetic recitations touched upon themes of history, injustice, empowerment and culture. More contemporary forms of spoken word were recited through the voices and works of African-American poets such as Daniela Gonyoe and Randell Adeji. Also, an afrobeat themed dance was performed by TRIO student Bitisho Matamura, which received a rapt audience response.
These more modern expressions of the culture drew a large crowd which showcased the Iowa City campus’s ability to highlight voices from its relativity small student body. Additionally, students, faculty and staff were treated to traditional African-American foods such as gumbo, cornbread, wings and a variety of desert items in the spirit of the culture.
“This event means so much to me,” said PTK member and nursing student Iyanha Godfrey, who was one of the lead organizers of the event. “Black history isn’t just history, it’s our culture.”
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