OBS will bring The Black Man to stageBy Jennifer Leovy
Last summer, undergraduate Athaliah Watkins was in her room listening to Black Man by Stevie Wonder, and it was at that moment she was inspired with a theme for the annual Organization of Black Students Cultural Show and Dinner.
The songs lyrics include significant inventions and discoveries in American history that were made by men and women of all races. Wonder reminds listeners, We pledge allegiance all our lives, to the magic colors red, blue and white, this world was made for all men.
The song became Watkins muse for the OBS show, as she tapped into its sense of a collective American history. So often in this culture, the black man is depicted as an entertainer or an athlete, said Watkins. People dont realize the impact the accomplishments of black men and women in history have on our daily lives.
What typical image do people get in their heads when they hear the black man? I want to disembody that phrase, Watkins said.
The Black Man is the theme for a cultural evening that will begin with a catered soul-food dinner at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 15, in Hutchinson Commons. The cultural show will begin at 8 p.m. in Mandel Hall. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door.
Nearly 50 student performers Black Woman, The Black Family, The Black Culture and White/American Culture. Watkins said she hopes the performance will entertain, inform and perhaps shock its spectators.
We did a lot of research because it is important that our historical facts are on point, Watkins said. Well talk about our experience in white culture, but we also are examining racial issues that occur within our own culture, such as differences and prejudices based on color within black culture.
The show will include a performance of the South-African national anthem, a dance interpretation of Porgy and Bess choreographed by College alumna Linara Washington, and dramatic excerpts from A Raisin in the Sun.
Other highlights will include comedic sketches written by students about their University experiences and a fast-paced, African stepping dance that is named the Gumboot dance for the high boots performers wear.
In addition to African and African-American traditions, students will include black cultures in the Caribbean and Latin and South America when they perform their interpretation of the African Diaspora.
For advanced ticket information, contact Nia Stokes at (773) 834-6940. People who need special seating because of a disability may call (773) 702-7300.