Campus News

Recitations at Citywide Black History Month Kickoff Program

Sandra L Santiago

It took some time, but little by little, the theatre started to fill with people that seemed very excited to see the different presentations that were expected for tonight. Before the events could start, the pastor led the whole audience in prayer. Then the night began starting off with prelude music with Joshua Reeves, who played Let us be Free on the violin. The violist played a melodious song on his instrument and enchanted the audience.

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Carlos Holmes and Jasmyn

Following that Mr. Carlos Holmes, director of news services at Delaware State University, welcomed the theater students who were playing the late and famous Delaware black history figures. Mr. Holmes was the one in charge of giving the cast the historical figure they were playing. He started with the first black slave of Delaware named Antoni Swart, who was known as Black Anthony. He was in the West Indies when he was captured by the Swedish and taken away.  He was the first documented black slave of Delaware. There was a musical break with Derick Thompson singing “I told Jesus” with Mr. Holmes on the piano.

Moving on to the next Delaware black history figure, we meet Araminta Ross, who is known as Harriet Tubman. She spoke about the underground railroad and the many slaves she took to freedom.  Jasmyn Gordon, who was portrayed Harriet Tubman said  “I honestly felt honored to play such a historical black female figure. Harriet Tubman broke a barrier not only for blacks, but for black women.  And to know that I have access to the tracks she left behind in Delaware, is just a humbling experience altogether.”

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Kendrick Hicks

Was it nerve – wracking to play such an important figure? Ms. Gordon answered “Absolutely, I did feel a bit under pressure because being a black historical figure that breaks barriers is more than just being. Being known all over the world for engraving the right for blacks to have freedom is very monumental. Harriet Tubman was very brave for enduring her dangerous journeys and in her honor, I felt very responsible to tell her story precisely.”

Then Samuel Burris was present as Harriet Tubman tells her story — he was a member of the underground railroad. Khamare Shields portrayed Samuel Burris, who stated “I didn’t know much about him when I started but by the end of it, I found it very interesting how entitled he was to the underground railroad movement. Even after he got caught and then he was brought back to his freedom by one of the abolitionists, that I thought was very cool.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Shields and many more do not know the name of the kind and brave abolitionists who set Mr. Burris free. Mr. Shields was very open-minded when it came to playing who ever Mr. Holmes gave him to play. In his words “being moved where I need to be so that at the end of the day Mr. Holmes’ vision could come to life.” Very well said; it is always good to have an open mind and be open to everything and anything.

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Twin Poets: Al Mils and Nnamdi Chukwuocha

During the night there were more Delaware black history figures presented by educators and writers, a color line broken. Once every historical figure was done, then came the Twin Poets: Al Mils & Nnamdi Chukwuocha. On stage they read and gave many poems such as Why I Write and a few new ones that they were working on. Once they finished Delaware State University Choir came up to sing and the night was ended with the Black National Anthem.

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