The Blue Diamond Step Team performing at the Black History Month Closing Reception.
Drexel’s observance of Black History Month 2015 came to a close with a celebration of youth in the annual closing reception Friday.
“We were looking for something new and different and we hadn’t focused on youth before,” said Courtney Price, a specialist in workforce development in Drexel’s Human Resources office, and a member of the Black Faculty Professional and Staff Association. “Also, it’s looking to the future. Youth have the torch now.”
A member of the event’s planning committee, Price said they wanted to highlight some of the talented youth in the area. Among those who performed were the Blue Diamonds steppers, of Shoemaker High School, and a pair of Drexel student trumpet players.
“Black history is made every day,” said Robert Brooks, the emcee of the event who also serves as the voice of Drexel basketball. “These young people are the ones who are going to be making it and it’s always good to remind them that they are the next wave who will be making it.”
Drexel’s celebration of Black History Month included a panel called “#BlackLivesMatter” and an exhibit displaying parallels between youth activists in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s and young people today. A sense of frustration permeated many of the events — deadly interactions between police and members of the black community over the last year prompted many of those feelings.
Drexel's Black Faculty and Professional Staff Association Committee and Supporters, who organized the closing reception, (from left to right) Nadia McCrimmon, Janeile Johnson, Keyanah Jones, Chantell Bowman, Althea Wallace and Courtney Price.
“There are those who think we have come a long way because we have an African-American president,” Brooks said. “But there are many more who live the realities and see that, as far as we’ve come, we still have a great distance to cover.”
Nayo Jones, a young poet, did an impassioned reading of one of her original poems that highlighted the frustrations and struggles of the black community.
Brooks felt the events Drexel held this month to look into and discuss such issues were progressive steps.
“You always have to keep dialogue going,” Brooks said. “A lot of the problems that exist now exist because we have not had enough dialogue. There aren’t enough ways for people to discuss race in a non-defensive matter.”
“I think a lot of the things that have been happening nationally have put a different tone to Black History Month this year, but it’s always good to focus on the positive things as well,” Price said. “I want it to be more of a balance.”
Ultimately, the reception was a celebration and was highlighted by the trumpeters’ rendition of “When the Saints Come Marching In” and students, faculty, staff and visitors joining together and dancing to songs like “Wobble Baby” and the “Cupid Shuffle” at the close of the ceremony.
“It’s definitely easy to see how the events of the last year changed the tone this year,” Price said. “But I hope our event didn’t just focus on the frustration but some of the positive things that are happening right now.”