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zaria_speakingA robust schedule of campus events will celebrate Black History Month this February. Award-winning writer, poet and artist Nina “Lyrispect” Ball will kick off the month, performing her poetry and storytelling this Friday evening in Straus Library from 6:30–7:30. Lyrispect, who performs nationwide, is described as a “renaissance woman who seeks to empower and provoke transformation and discovery through meaningful work in the arts.”

In January, Classes I through IV explored black history and current race issues at a unique Martin Luther King Jr. Assembly, in which students heard directly from their peers, who read quotations of Dr. King and performed poetry and music. Zaria Smalls (I) presented a poetry program—a Speech Team event in which lines and stanzas from previously published poems are woven together to create a new story.

“I looked for poems that addressed topics of police brutality, the events in Ferguson, and race relations overall,” says Zaria. “I wanted to explore how people of color are viewed in society. It can be hard to find the words to talk about this stuff, so with a poetry program I was able to compile thoughts and ideas that helped me say something important in a certain way, and build on a concept.”

This was Zaria’s first time performing the piece, but she is exploring the idea of using it in future Speech Team events. Other students performing at the MLK assembly were Destiny Polk (I), Lisandra Lao (I), Miles Awofala (I) and Sam Oldshue (III).

Events scheduled throughout this month include:

February 9: Black Lives Matter photo installation in Forbes Dining Hall

February 13: Gospel Explosion concert in Wigg Hall, 7 p.m.

February 21: Hip Hop Instruction with Tony Tucker of Street Hype, Wigg Hall, 8 p.m.

February 25: Onyx Assembly in FCC

February 27: Beatnik Café with Black History theme in Straus Library