Shippensburg University’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) collaborated with the Resident Hall Association (RHA) to host “Live at the Apollo,” which was an event to celebrate black history and culture last Thursday in Orndorff Theatre.
The event was very laidback and informal — anyone present could participate.
Some sang songs, while others danced. A few read poetry. Most of the acts and performances tied into black history and culture. SU freshmen Jordan Newsome-Little was the master of ceremonies for the event, and also read an impromptu poem.
The event served as an outlet for attendees to express their talent.
Because of the casual setting, there was a lot less pressure when performers made mistakes. Several stopped performing mid-song, and the audience clapped and cheered. In the same vein, other reluctant performers were goaded into performing with impromptu singing or dancing.
Performers could walk up to the screen, pull up a song on YouTube, and sing or dance to the track. Those who sang did so to instrumental tracks.
Jaren Bittinger read the Langston Hughes poem titled “Let America be America Again,” which began as a celebration. This happy poem soon turned sour, and the narrator questions how free America really is.
Hughes, a leader of the Harlem Rennaissance, was an activist who lived during the earlier half of the 20th century. Bittinger considered it an anthem for underrepresented people.
Between each performance, the audience played Kahoot!, a multiple-choice study game. Questions centered around black history and culture. One asked the year of the earliest recorded American protest against slavery, which was led by the Quakers in 1688.
Kapri Brown, assistant director of MSA, asked the crowd the year the first African-American graduated from SU. After several failed guesses, someone in the crowd said “1903.” Brown confirmed this and elaborated that the woman sat in the hallways during class and could not eat at the dining halls. Nonetheless, she graduated.
SU is home to five black fraternities: Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma and Iota Phi Theta; and four black sororities: Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta and Sigma Gamma Rho. Representatives from Kappa Alpha Psi, Alpha Phi Alpha and Omega Psi Phi attended the event, talked about their organizations and showed off their own coordinated dance moves to the crowd.
MSA will present the Black Experience Tribute (BET) on March 28 at SU’s Memorial Auditorium, which was rescheduled from its original date late in February due to snow.