The African-American Alumni Network welcomed guests into the Feldman-Horn Gallery Feb. 25 for its third annual Jazz and Poetry Lounge with jazz standards performed by the Jazz Explorers band and foods including macaroni and cheese, garlic bread, salad and lemon bars.
President of the alumni network Abby Harris ’94 organized the event, which was hosted by former “The Cosby Show” actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner, in honor of Black History Month.
Harris began the event by singing the first verse of the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” sometimes referred to as the “Black American National Anthem.” The audience joined in singing the final verses.
Guests were encouraged to perform poetry or share art, and performances included a remix of J. Cole’s “Be Free” on the harmonium by English teacher Zachary Greenberg and poetry recitations by Warner, history teacher Lauren Nichols ’03, and Sydney Delaney ’02.
Warner performed several poems, including “So I Run,” a poem by Will Bell describing African-American historical figures from Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman to rapper Tupac Shakur and the hardships these men and women faced.
Delaney shared a poem she wrote in 2006 after the death of her boyfriend.
“He and I promised each other a future together, so this is for him,” she said. “This is for anyone with mixed heritage, like me.”
Flavia Zuniga-West ’02, who set up a display of her artwork depicting the faces of people with mixed heritage, said that without the Jazz and Poetry Lounge, she might not have ever had the courage to share her art with an audience.
“People have said to stop making art about being biracial,” Zuniga-West said. “They say it’s not saying anything. In the past two or three years, I’ve come to the point where I don’t care.”
Harris also reminded guests to donate in the final year of the Takes a Village campaign, a three-year financial aid fundraiser run by the African-American Alumni Network.