As students walked into the Joe Crowley Student Union on the night of Tuesday, February 20, they could hear “God’s Plan” by Drake playing. “Hope I got some brothers that outlive me/They gon’ tell the story, shit was different with me,” he sings on the new track.
The Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity held the “For the Culture Talent Show” celebrating Black History Month.
“We wanted to reinvent what we do as a fraternity and what we do for black history month due to the fact that we are a historically black Greek life organization,” said Phi Beta Sigma president Brandon Cruz. “Then on top of that we felt like there was a lot of Afrocentric dances and talents that we would showcase by doing this talent show.”
One student named Nick shared a marker illustration of influential black figures, including Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, Bob Marley and Malcolm X. Everyone signed the poster after the show.
“The funny thing is that he’s from a Hispanic Greek life organization, but he was willing to do that for an African American organization because at the end of the day we’re all fighting for the same thing,” Cruz said.
The men of Phi Beta Sigma took the stage wearing dashikis, African shirts worn in celebration. They performed a traditional African step dance.
“Many people don’t know how deeply rooted step is in African culture,” Cruz said.
One standout act was a poetry performance from freshmen Sylvia Stephens and SaMoura Horsley. They wore shirts which had “#itooamamerica” and an excerpt from the Langston Hughes poem on the back. They got the shirts at Brave New Voices, an international poetry competition.
Before performing, Stephens and SaMoura encouraged the audience to participate with snaps and mmm’s as well as shouting out “Yes, poet!” The crowd seemed happy to oblige.
Stephens’ poem was called “First Generation Nigerian American.”
“It talks about being forced to choose between either being Nigerian or American, when it’s more of a cultural experience to be raised in a household that is Nigerian and to really emerge into American culture … Just the conflicts that happen,” Stephens said.
Horsley’s poem was called “Praise the White Man.”
“There’s all these things that people contribute to just white people the institution. They ignore that minorities have done so much for this country. They try to make their success more. My whole point is the everyone else has contributed. My culture has contributed a lot to what this country is now.”
The women of ABLE performed another African dance. ABLE stands for Ambition, Beauty, Leadership and Equality, and they focus on women’s empowerment and community service.
After that, a man and a woman took the stage in all black and danced to contemporary hits like “Gucci Gang” by Lil’ Pump and “Walk It Talk It” by Migos.
Brendan struck a chord with his soulful rendition of the gospel hymn “His Eye on the Sparrow.”
“His voice is just the angel from above,” Horsley said.
Kapreace, Bobby and Steve danced in lime green and pulled off an impressive splits. Their performance featured songs like “Revolution” by Kirk Franklin and “I Luh God” by Erica Campbell.
Local jazz/hip-hop duo the Revolutionists closed out the show. The Revolutionists consist of Chris Buchanan on drums and Delshaun Holtzclaw on keyboards. They entranced the house with smooth jams. Before playing “Victorious,” Holtzclaw said “Feel proud and strong in what y’all do.”
When they finished, the crowd demanded an encore. The Revolutionists indulged them.
“We literally made this shit like last week,” Holtzclaw admitted. When they finished, they bowed then dabbed.
“I like to see everyone that came out and all the meanings and representations,” Stephens said.
“It was nice to actually get this out into the public and show the PWI [predominantly white institution] campus that we find ourselves on what it is to be African American and the roots behind it,” Cruz said.
As another Black History Month event, Phi Beta Sigma is hosting the event “In Their Shoes” on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. in the JCSU Theater. It is an open forum about the history of African Americans post-slavery.
As a note of disclosure, Brandon Cruz is also an employee of The Nevada Sagebrush.