The Binghamton University Black Student Union continued the celebration of Black History Month Friday night with a Poetry Jam featuring members of the nationally renowned Nuyorican Poets Cafe. The Alphabet City-based group presented BU with verses that spoke directly to the large and diverse audience.
The performers included Malcolm Wicks, Aja Monet, Mikumari Caiyhe and Mahogany Browne. Each offered his or her own style and perspective that reflected the event’s theme of “illuminating black excellence.”
Getting performers from Nuyorican to come to BU was a big accomplishment for the BSU. The Nuyorican slam team, on which Caiyhe currently competes, ranks consistently in the top five nationally for poetry slam events.
“It’s all about sharing your experience. Telling everyone what it means to be black through your own story, through your own words,” Wicks said.
Through his poems, Wicks shared his thoughts about what it means to be black and the personal significance spoken word takes on in his life.
Monet offered a different perspective on the same issues. Her verses featured intensely personal criticisms interwoven with lyrics about her life and family.
The annual event was put together by Madjeen Garcon, vice president of BSU.
Every year, the BSU works to find talented poets to come to the University and spread the culture of spoken word.
“When I thought about Black History Month, I wanted to put out the image of African-American accomplishments,” said Garcon, a senior double-majoring in sociology and political science. “I wanted to illuminate the brightness of the things we’ve accomplished.”
Themes ranged from personal to political, but all the performers brought powerful prose, which was punctuated by a final group performance by Caiyhe and Wicks. The verse was staunch criticism of the New York Police Department’s “stop-and-frisk” tactics.
“Only crime committed — excessive possession of melanin.”
The University Union Undergrounds was filled past capacity with members from outside the University community attending, alongside many students.
“I feel like there’s a great black community on campus, so I wanted to come out and be more a part of it,” said Georgia Sackey, a freshman majoring in English who attended the event.