BlackArt Durham: A Celebration of Black Excellence
BY OYINDA AJASA
March 14, 2018
The sound of laughter and chatter resonates in the atrium. Colorful artwork is displayed throughout the hallways. The static of the speaker and the melodic lyrics of poetry fill the air. This is the BlackArt Durham Festival, and this is DSA’s third year hosting it.
With the diverse backgrounds of students at DSA, it makes sense to have different festivals celebrating these cultures. The BlackArt Durham Festival at DSA is a way for students, families, and staff to celebrate the creative genius of black students. With a one-man show by actor Mike Wiley, student performances, and a play about Race in American education, the program of the festival was exciting and creative.
The two student leaders for the event are Zoe Thompson and Tabatha Radaker. They have been leading the event for the past three years. They came up to Mr. Donaldson with the idea because they wanted to increase exposure to the achievements of African American students to those at DSA.
“Zoe and I have been so excited to do this for three years now. Every year it is just so moving to see people come out just to see what we do with the festival and what we have here at DSA,” Tabatha Radaker, senior, said.
Part of the significance of having the Black History Month Festival is to acknowledge and celebrate some of the inspiring and influential things that Black Americans have accomplished in the U.S.
“The achievements made by Black Americans are not recognized enough. I feel that students learn the same Black activists in school every year. The curriculum does not provide students with enough information about Black History. For students to learn about Black History, the student has to read it on social media or research it themselves. So, when I see the festival, it makes me appreciate how much light these contributions bring to inform and celebrate the achievements,” Nia Applewhite, senior, stated.
Students and clubs at DSA are showcasing their art and talent at the festival. Young People Unite held a discussion about Race in American Education, and how to improve access and achievement for African American students in school.
“The role of YPU was to provide the audience with various perspectives of Race in Education. The importance was to make the audience aware of the social issues that are happening in the school system that students, teachers, and administrators witness and experience. The discussion really engaged the audience where most people had a similar perspective on the topic. So, when I saw people's reactions afterwards, they looked observant then that made my reaction impressed because that's the feeling that I was aiming for,” Nia Applewhite commented.
After Tabatha and Zoe leave for college, the future of the festival is unclear, but with the devoted students at DSA, the festival will for sure be continued.
“I have people in mind that will take over the festival in the future. I know that BlackArt Durham is far from finished.” Tabatha Radaker concluded.
Photos by Oyinda Ajasa