Black History Month events announced

Jan. 30, 2012
Contact: Chloe Kennedy, News and New Media Writer

In observance of National Black History Month, Maryville College’s Black Student Association will present a “Black Expo Poetry Night” at 6 p.m., Thurs., Feb. 9 in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall.

Two spoken word artists, Sarah Kay and Rudy Francisco, will perform during the event, which is free and open to the public.

Kay, who grew up in New York City, began performing her poetry when she was 14 years old, becoming a fixture at the famous Bowery Poetry Club. She holds many titles, including spoken word poet, poetry teacher, documentary filmmaker, playwright, singer, songwriter, photographer and editor for Write Bloody Publishing. She is the founder and director of Project V.O.I.C.E. (Vocal Outreach Into Creative Expression), a national movement that celebrates and inspires youth self-expression through spoken word poetry. She has performed in venues across the country, including the United Nations, and she was a speaker at the TED 2011 Conference. She was also featured on the sixth season of the television series Russell Simmons presents HBO Def Poetry Jam.

Francisco, who was born and raised in San Diego, Calif., is the co-host of the largest poetry venue in San Diego. As an artist, he combines activism and poetry to enlighten the minds of those who hear him perform. Through workshops and performances at schools and community centers, he has worked to expose youth to the genre of spoken word poetry. He has also conducted guest lectures and performances at colleges and universities across the country. He is the 2009 National Underground Poetry Slam Champion, the 2010 San Diego Grand Slam Champion, the 2010 San Francisco Grand Slam Champion and the 2010 Individual World Poetry Slam Champion.

The event “aims to expose the Maryville College community to the art of spoken word,” said Larry Ervin, director of multicultural affairs at Maryville College. “The storytellers of old kept the history and the traditions of old alive. Spoken word is that vehicle of today.”

The poetry expo is just one of several events planned for Black History Month.

“Black history is even more relevant today than ever. Contributions of all peoples to our American way of life cannot be swirled into a sea of forgetfulness,” Ervin said. “This knowledge is a source of encouragement, entitlement and pride for any group of people. All peoples need to have pride in their cultures history and future.”

Other Black History Month events on campus:

Thurs., Feb. 2 – “Apollo Night” will be held at 7 p.m. in the Clayton Center’s Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall. Modeled after the original “Showtime at the Apollo” show that launched Sept. 12, 1987, at the famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem, N.Y., the event will feature performances by members of the campus and local community. The event is free and open to the public.

Fri., Feb. 3 – A screening of the 2007 film Freedom Writers will begin at 7 p.m. in the Clayton Center’s Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall. Starring Hilary Swank, the movie tells the story of a young, inner-city school teacher who encourages her class of at-risk students to express themselves through writing. Free and open to the public.

Fri., Feb. 10 – A screening of the film Antwone Fisher will begin at 7 p.m. in the Clayton Center’s Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall. Based on a true story, the film stars Denzel Washington and Derek Luke and tells the story of a young navy man who is forced to see a psychiatrist after a violent outburst against a fellow crewman. During treatment, the young man reveals a horrible past and realizes a hopeful future. Free and open to the public.

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,198.