Students and faculty came together in the D’Angelo Center ballroom to celebrate the 103rd birthday of the NAACP Feb. 10, focusing on the empowerment the group seeks to inspire.
The event consisted of performances by the Sinai Liturgical Dance Ministry, Voices of Victory, and jazz music from the Magnolia Street Band throughout the festival. In addition to the performances there were various motivational speeches and guest speakers.
NAACP chapter President Cameron Watkins and 1st Vice President Saundra Heath hosted the event. Heath welcomed the audience with a prayer of appreciation and solidarity for the students and faculty for attending the gala.
The Sinai Liturgical Dance Ministry preformed a gospel number. “The dance was a perfect way to start off the celebration,” said sophomore Bithiah Sam. “It was very inspiring and gave a sense of salvation. It really showed what the NAACP is all about through movement.”
When the dance ministry finished their performance Voices of Victory took the stage. The gospel institute sang several songs consisting of bible verses, and songs from the soundtrack The Color Purple.
“The music was very inspiring,” said Sophomore Jeneba Daramy. “You couldn’t help but to sing along even if you didn’t know the words.”
NAACP 3 Vice President Jordan Starks took the stage and read a poem about self empowerment by American civil rights activist W.E.B Du Bois titled “The Song of the Smoke.”
Subsequently, Watkins came on stage to say words of encouragement and introduce the keynote speaker, James Gansrow, dean of the New York
Gansrow discussed the hard times of his life growing up and how when he got older he became a single foster parent to five children. He also shared how his children were not always obedient to him however how he instilled values and discipline to them to make them interdependent young men. Gansrow advocated the empowerment of himself, his children but most importantly the empowerment of others. He by stated his respect for the University and organization for enlightening others and continuing to do so. “He was awesome” said freshman Muna Ali. “His speech was very inspiring and not boring at all”.
Heath and Starks presented awards after the dinner for outstanding members of the organization. The festivities came to a close with the Magnolia Street Band playing jazz music as the audience exited.
“The performances were great and this event was a perfect addition to Black History Month,” said freshman Donny Blake. “I only wish there were more events like this at the University.”