Perspectives: Echoes of Africa

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African students from across the globe will honor their heritage and celebrate their passions in an evening of art, dance and song. 

BYU’s Multicultural Student Services and the Black Student Union will present “Perspectives: Echoes of Africa” on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Wilkinson Student Center Ballroom. The performance is part of Black History Month celebrations, and admission is free to the public.

Alexis Henson, left and Jette Jones, right, practice a musical number for “Perspectives” on Tuesday in the Wilkinson Center.

“Perspectives” provides an opportunity for black students to share their talents and experiences that define their lives. The event will consist of presentations and performances that showcase the rich diversity among black cultures. Black students on campus are not just African-American, but also African-Caribbean and African-Latino. 

Black students make up a small percentage of BYU’s population. In 2012, black students accounted for just 254 of BYU’s 30,814 students. They may be a small part of the population, but they are excited to share their talents in honor of Black History Month.

Presentations will include poetry, oral histories and art displays.

Marlena Marie Smith, a senior studio art major, will present her artwork at the event. Smith’s art was inspired by a civil rights trip she participated in and her study abroad experience in London. 

“I learned about a lot of the history, American history, involving African-Americans that I didn’t even know,” Smith said. “It just lit a fire in me … so I did a couple pieces on the slave trade and what it means to be an American.”

Performance groups will dance and sing to both traditional and current music to express their history and diversity.

Camlyn Giddins, a junior studying media arts, is part of BYU’s Black Student Acapella Choir, which will perform a series of songs that cover different stages of African history. The group’s soulful singing has a rich history among African Americans.

“I grew up singing around the kitchen table, doing dishes harmonizing with my family,” Giddins said. “Coming to BYU, I’ve just kind of been starved of it … one thing that I’ve gotten from singing with this group is the community of people that love to sing and harmonize.”

A group of dancers practice on Tuesday in the Wilkinson Center for the upcoming “Perspectives” event.

The Black Student Union will perform a dance to Shakira’s song, “Waka Waka: This is the Time for Africa,” which was the theme song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup hosted by South Africa.

Anna Cherry, a senior at Timpview High School, worked on the choreography for the Waka Waka performance.

“It’s the perspective of Africans on our month,” Cherry said. “Our history, our joined passion … (that) is what ‘Perspectives’ is about. It’s about sharing our culture with the world, and having this little bit of a party and a little bit of a celebration.”

For more information about Black History Month events, see the Multicultural Student Services calendar on its website, multicultural.byu.edu.

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