Weisman events honor black history

SBy Molly Moker since the spring of 2002, Lachelle Cunningham has had a vision – or a dream.

“I want people to come together under one roof and hear the message of freedom of expression,” said Cunningham, 21, a cultural studies and comparative literature major.

Her dream became reality Saturday, when “Voices of Free Style,” a concert curated by Cunningham, came to life at the Weisman Art Museum.

The event, a local spoken-word tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., ran in conjunction with Weisman’s current art exhibition, “In the Spirit of Martin: The Living Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

The concert and exhibition are two of several events the University is hosting throughout February in honor of Black History Month.

Cunningham became involved with the project through her father, a member of the event’s planning committee. The committee was looking to add another dimension to the exhibition and liked Cunningham’s idea of a

spoken-word concert.

“Dr. King was a powerful speaker, so it seems (natural) to bring in spoken-word artists to interpret the message in their own words,” said Jill Boldenow, a public program coordinator at Weisman.

Saturday’s event began with an hour of open mic, where young and old verbalized their thoughts on freedom of expression, civil rights, peace and anything else on their minds. Opening acts included Rhapsody, Truth Maze and local favorite Edupoetic Enterbrainment.

Frank Sentwali, creator of Edupoetic Enterbrainment, said the goal of the group’s performance was “to stimulate the audience’s intellect and arouse their spirit by bringing to light the current and controversial issues of society.

“Personally, my mission is getting that positive energy out and having some fun,” Sentwali said.

Part two of “Voices of Free Style” will take place from 8-11 p.m. on March 8. The event will begin with open mic and will feature spoken-word artists Divinewords, Ismael Lowe and The Poet Tree.

Cunningham and Boldenow said they are optimistic the second event will continue drawing crowds.

“I want people to see that we all have a voice, and we should use it to make the world a better place. I want to impact the audience by saying ‘here’s this message, let’s go use it.’ We all have one voice, so let’s bring them all together to tribute Dr. King,” Cunningham said.

“Everyone has a creative voice to express the current culture they live in. When students see their peers doing this open mic, it could make it attractive for them to become involved in some way, whether it’s musically or a different response,” Boldenow said.

Molly Moker is a freelance writer. The freelance editor welcomes comments at [email protected]