Black Student Union hosts Black History Month Assembly


Sheridan O'Kelly, News Editor

During a double third period last Thursday, the Black Student Union presented “The Evolution of the Black Experience” through various performances on the auditorium stage. Astronomy and forensics teacher Nichole Kellerman and various WJ students organized the assembly over the course of months of hard work and diligent planning. Black Student Union President Celeste Rubino introduced the various acts and touched upon the complexity of Black History Month. Rubino also read a long quote by Mahatma Gandhi.
Freshman Zuri Livingston led the audience in “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson. “Lift Every Voice and Sing” — often referred to as the “Black American National Anthem” — was written as a poem by Johnson in 1899 and was set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson in 1905. It is one of the authorized hymns in the Episcopal hymnal. Seniors Lyla Huff and Lauren Lander were joined by junior Tyller Kenke and performed “Summertime” by George Gershwin. The WJ Jazz ensemble took the stage next and played to “In the Stone” by Earth, Wind and Fire. Senior Adwoa Busia and senior Betty Getachew sang “Don’t Touch my Hair” by Solange. Since its release in 2016, “Don’t Touch My Hair” has raised a lot of positive attention in the black community, sending a strong message to black women that their hair is theirs and they should be proud of it, not let others dictate their style decisions . The track’s soft melody raises this powerful message in a subtle and calm way.
An African dance ensemble performed to a mash-up of different songs, some of which included Korede Bello’s “Do Like That” and Dotorado Pro’s “Marimba Rija”. African dance has traditionally played an essential role in the culture of African tribes, its uses varying from celebration and prayer to funeral rites and wartime rituals.
WJ’s show choir Pop Fly sang and danced to “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire followed by a powerful reading of Ronta Clark’s poem, “Pro-Black is not Anti-White”, by sophomore Sabryn Ferchichi. The poem brought attention to the fast-evolving Black Lives Matter movement while exemplifying pride in African American heritage.The central message Clark was trying to convey was that being pro-Black is not meant to be a war on any other race.
Rubino also gave a soulful performance of “A Change is Going to Come,” by Sam Cooke. Senior Ogechi Nwagwu and sophomore Layla Sana followed in suit with two different powerful dance performances; Nwagwu danced to an upbeat mash-up of “Bundelele” by Awilo Longomba and “Bruk it Down” by Mr. Vegas, while Sana danced to a colorful mixture of Beyonce’s “Formation” and Chris Brown’s “Party”.
Sophomore Naja Joseph and senior Jaylen Wheeler rounded out the assembly with two different performances. Joseph sang “Living Proof” by Mary J Blige. “Living Proof” was released in 2011 for the soundtrack of the film The Help. The song garnered positive reviews from contemporary critics who praised its lyrical content and Blige’s vocals. Wheeler read an excerpt of President Obama’s Farewell Address, a serious, yet warm speech praising voters, staff and the American people at large for their service to the country.
The Lady Wildcats Step-Up Dance Team closed the event with a performance to “Try Again” by Aaliyah, making use of chairs in their choreography.