Taste of February celebrates Black History Month

Amber Jones and Amber Jones

The unrecognized parts of black history were highlighted at this year’s Taste of February, entitled “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” The SMART program invited audience members to engage in discourse and absorb the culture and celebration of Black History month.

“There may be parts of this program that may seem radical, and some that might make you feel uncomfortable. Rather than leave or shut down, we ask that you reach out to the SMART staff sitting at your tables and talk to us about your questions and feelings, and please remember that some of the most effective learning happens during times of greatest discomfort,” Coordinator of Diversity and Retention Ana Brown said. 

During the opening of the program, Graduate SMART Coordinator Ayanna Byers gave the history of the poem and song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” which was adopted by the NAACP as the Negro National Anthem and then entered into congressional record as the Black National anthem in the 1990s. The audience members and SMART staff, raising their Black Power Fists high and proud, arose from their chairs to acknowledge Jazz singer Rene Marie’s version of the anthem. which consisted of the words of Lift Every Voice and Sing and the Star Spangled banner melody.

“The song expresses pride in being American, frustrations with past injustices and hope for a better future,” Byers said.

Dinner quickly followed, taking audience members on a trip around the continent with various “street foods” representing different regions of Africa. The menu consisted of Nigerian suya (spicy grilled beef), Mozambique style piri piri (roasted chicken legs in red pepper sauce), curried grilled vegetables, chicken mshikaki, mechouia and banana fritters.

“Everything was very spicy with a kick to it,” Junior Amanda Reese said. “I am glad I was able to open my mind and taste the various dishes at the event.”

Kicking the theme into high gear, the SMART staff began their presentations with artist Janelle Monae’s song “Hell you Talmbout,” a video that depicts past crimes committed against people of color along with pictures of the victims.

The first performance centered on the social media hashtag movement that responded to the discrimination and violence against people of color and the LGBTQIA community. Hashtags such as #HandsUpDontShoot, #SayHerName, #IfTheyGunMeDown, #BlackOnCampus and #ICantBreath were the focal points of the performance.

Black Twitter, a cultural identity on Twitter that focuses on issues of interest to the black community not covered by mainstream news, was a topic of interest among audience members. Black Twitter provides representation of the culture of black communities focusing on black excellence while also using the humor of memes to discuss what it was like growing up black.

Sticking to the theme, the SMART staff also discussed the misconceptions of the Black Panther Party and Black Lives Matter. Both have been seen as violent groups, using force to get their points across.

With a game of Family Feud, misconceptions of the movements were tackled by highlighting the positive impact that both organizations have on the black community, such as providing healthcare, food and safety to communities.

The program continued with the honoring of black excellence throughout the decades, paying homage to Dr. Angela Davis, artist Prince, director Spike Lee and others who have contributed to the black community through activism and philanthropy.

The program ended on a note of past violence in black communities, such as the Tulsa Race Riots and the MOVE bombing of 1985.

“I hope audience members take away, if nothing else, that there’s more history than just Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. We get so caught in this rut of doing the same things over and over again, and black history in America is a very rich and deep history,” Brown said. She continues, “I hope this peak people’s curiosity to learn more about things that happened in black history that not a lot of people talk about.”