Java Johnnies: Women’s HerStory Month

Ariana Ortiz, Assistant News Editor

Students gathered this past Friday evening at 5 p.m. in the DAC living room for Java Johnnies’ “Women’s Empowerment with a Guest Performance by Raquel Lily,” an official event for the University’s Women’s HerStory Month 2017 celebration.

The student performances were preceded by an hour-and-a-half long performance by Alabama-based musician Raquel Lily, who performed a mixture of covers and original songs, including Amy Winehouse’s “Me and Mr. Jones.” The remaining half-hour consisted of four student poetry performances and one vocal performance.

Teresa Ehiogu, who is a part of the Women’s History Month Committee and served as emcee of the event, coordinated the student performances.

Danielle Rouse, an orientation leader and first of the student artists to perform, presented a piece she said was partly inspired by the recent string of missing girls in Washington, D.C. Rouse is also a member of Food for Thought, the University’s poetry club. “What makes women so significant, as if we have lived it all before?” Rouse intoned at the beginning of her poem, drawing an energetic reaction from the audience.

Vanessa St. Louis, a member of E.D.E.N., a Christian fellowship group, performed her poem entitled “Who Houses My Soul.” Before her performance, St. Louis explained that she wanted to convey what women’s empowerment means to her. “I took it from the standpoint of what it means to be empowered as a woman through my faith in God,” she said.

Raven Jackson, a member of Haraya and resident assistant, took to the stage to perform “The Societal Rape of the Black Woman,” which drew on the unique struggles black women have historically endured in the United States. Vishel Ramsaywack, a Haraya and Food for Thought member, also performed an original piece centered on the experiences of black women. Kai Butler, president of E.D.E.N. and resident assistant, finished the event with an energizing rendition of Andra Day’s “Rise Up.”

Throughout the evening, free treats such as fruit tarts and brownies were passed around, with a coffee and tea bar set up near the entrance.

The event was initially advertised separately as an “Artist’s Night” headlined by Raquel Lily, and as “Java Johnnies: Poetry Night,” but soon turned into a collaboration between the Resident Student’s Association and the Women’s History Month Committee.

“The event was to spark off a representation of women in the arts. We started off with a hired professional by the name of Raquel Lily,” Roderick Jackson, the coordinator for Java Johnnies, said in an email exchange with the Torch. “After Raquel finished, we moved on to the second portion of the event which was led by the Women’s History Month Committee.”