Remembering the men and women who helped abolish segregation, the IUP Artistry Movement (IAM) hosted its first solo event, “Unsung Heroes,” commemorating Black History Month. Using art, spoken word, poetry and song, the hour-long presentation took place at 7:30 p.m. Monday in McVitty Auditorium.
“The IAM has always celebrated Black History Month,” said IAM President Justin Cobb.
“The majority of our members have always been African American, and as time goes on, even as the group becomes more diverse, we maintain the idea of diversity and advancement for various groups of people.”
Former member Kwame Edwards (senior, accounting) was one of eight performers. He said civil rights are important because it was a “turning point” in the country.
“It shows the period when black people finally said enough was enough and we are going to stand up to our oppressors,” Edwards said.
The event began with a poetry reading from Edwards followed by brief biographies showcasing civil rights leaders who are not usually mentioned or remembered.
His original poem about Kwame Nkurma provided more insight into the late Ghanaian prime minister’s legacy.
“The fact that not many people know about [him] and his impact on Africa and many African American activists … inspired me to write it,” Edwards said. “I was named after him, and knowing who he was inspires me to inform others.”
Other featured biographies included the stories of human rights activist Malcolm X, musician Nina Simone, 15-year-old Claudette Calvin and gay rights pacifist Bayard Rustin.
Students Téa Capps (junior, English) and Kadar Lee (junior, communications media) took turns reading the biographies and later read their own poems.
While the event’s theme revolved around heroes and pivotal moments of the Civil Rights Movement, IAM members expressed their personal stories, current observations and tributes using their words and talents: Capps’s poem spoke about African American heritage and taking pride in one’s “roots.”
India Scott sang Whitney Houston’s song, “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength,” after speaking to attendees about her past experiences with bullying, relaying that bad times do not last forever.
Long also performed two spoken-word pieces.
One paid tribute to America’s undocumented immigrants, and the other honored the late Black Panther Party chairman and activist Fred Hampton.
Long said the event was a great way to “pay homage to civil rights leaders who often don’t get the credit they deserve.”
The IAM’s first Black History Month tribute took the form of a “Black Lives Matter” event in the fall of 2014, which also featured music and poetry.
According to their general flyer, the IAM is a club that is “dedicated to developing and empowering the voices of artistic individuals.”
IAM welcomes all kinds of writers and performers and holds general meetings at 5 p.m. every Monday in Ackerman 204.
So far this semester, IAM has co-hosted an open mic night with the Latino Student Organization (LASO) and plans to host more solo events this semester.