On Tuesday evening, student Luis Gonzalez stood in front of roughly 50 people and portrayed Angela Davis, a civil rights and black power leader, as the first in a series of performers presenting monologues as lesser-known black influential figures.
“Who am I?” said Gonzalez, a sophomore majoring in geography. “Ex-President Nixon said I was a terrorist, while to my beautiful black brothers and sisters I was an activist, a revolutionary and everything in between. So who am I? I’ve been called a communist, a socialist, even a feminist.”
The Men of Color Scholastic Society and Powerful United Ladies Striving to Elevate (PULSE) gave attendees prizes, such as books and CDs, if they could guess a performer’s persona quickly following the monologue.
Tanesha Brown, public relations coordinator of PULSE and a junior majoring in psychology, said the groups intended the event to highlight inspirational, but little studied, black people.
“What I want students to take away is that they should take the initiative to learn about our history and our culture, even though it’s taught to us, it’s not restricted. We can go search and find it out,” she said.
The hosts of the show, Julius Ojo, class of ’12, and Ese Olumhense, a junior majoring in English, kept the audience entertained between acts with quips and audience interaction.
“I heard there was a sheet going around with all the answers on it,” Ojo said, pointing to several audience members. “What are you doing, what are you up to? I feel like they got the answers as soon as the act is over.”
Olumhense quickly pointed to another.
“Can we turn the lights on and see if there actually is a sheet,” she said. “That one was too quick with the answer!”
Several acts after Gonzalez, Jibri Easter, a junior majoring in integrative neuroscience, portrayed Nat Turner, an American slave who led a large slave rebellion, by tying him to the film “Django Unchained.”
“I was the original thug life. I was the revolutionary of my time. I put my neck on the line for my people … you see, it wasn’t about my ball and chain, it was about all the balls and chains,” he said. “See I was real, I did real things that we’ll remember forever. Y’all families, they didn’t know nothing about a Django, they knew about me. From east to west, I became freedom personified.”
Before the show, Easter explained his decision to tie Turner to Django.
“I kinda feel like everyone saw that movie and thought it was a great movie and seeing the freed slave fight back, but the ending, it’s not real,” Easter said. “People know, or people should know, that Nat Turner was one of the few people to actually fight back during those times.”
Oladapo Onasnaya, a senior majoring in biology, praised Men of Color for coordinating the show and its work pioneering black history awareness.
“I hope [Men of Color] spread and expand and get black history as far out over this campus as possible,” Onasnaya said.