Though Springfest was actually kicked off with the Truth and Service game, the first event of the week was the Deaf Jam poetry slam. As the event began in the Blackburn Ballroom, there was a setup of neon balloons, black posters, with a table of neon paints and glow sticks. Attendees were encouraged to write on the posters whenever the felt moved and engage with any of the neon props available to really encompass this black light theme. The atmosphere was finished off by the great sounds of DJ Noble who played some favorites such as Window Seat by Erykah Badu and Kitty Katt by Beyonce.

The evening was filled with a myriad of young, talented, black individuals. The theme for the night was “Change, Revolution and New Identity.” All the performers embodied this theme and throughout the night of performances. One came from NyJohn Washington (@buffalo_mamba), a fellow HU21 freshie whose poem was an ode to black women and the struggles that they face. The piece focused on the beauty of  black women being multifaceted, with strength and so many other great things. His poem pleads for black women to not want a society that only harms to understand them and rather seek validation within themselves. 

Another powerful performance came from Eric Powell whose stage name is E.L.P.J.(@aswadfahd). He is a local spoken word artist from D.C., his piece was titled “Revolutionary Suicides,” a captivating performance in where he holds a gun made with his hand to his head and lays out his anger at America. In this piece America is referred to as “she,” Powell describes being black in America as being born into a war, and the stress and frustration that comes with trying to fight this war. He acknowledges the ancestry of fellow figures who fought this war such as Garvey and the obligation to finish this fight while also battling conflicting feelings of still loving America similar to an abusive relationship. The piece then switches back to Powell’s perspective and he finishes off telling America that she will not finish him or beat him down and his people will finish this war.

Some of our beautiful Howard ladies showed up and showed out as well. TeAna Brown, whose stage name is Tea Speaks delivered a piece about the dynamic between African-Americans and continental Africans. In this plight it is sometimes considered appropriation by Africans, Brown wants us to understand that we are on the same side. There was also Justice Shiller (@shewaveywithit) whose stage name is Justice Z, who performed two pieces. The first titled “A Little Kid Again” discusses family issues, separation, distance and the pain it causes in a family. The next piece was a very short one entitled “People Who Question Me.” Lastly, Ainae Nielsen (@ainaemusix) preformed two songs titled “Full Plate” and “Gem.” She has an indie, funky, melodic vibe, whose flow, beats, and lyrics may be unorthodox to some but speak to her commitment to individuality. Check out her EP “Contort” on Soundcloud.

The night ended with two keynote poets: Rudy Francisco and Sejahari Saulter-Villegas. His piece on masculinity was inspired about his two-year old daughter who taught him how to love, and that oftentimes boys are brought up to be “masculine” and out of touch with their emotions which has detrimental effects in the future. Rudy Francisco is an older poet and preformed three poems one on honesty, fragile, masculinity, and love. Sejahari Saulter-Villegas (@amaru_ler)  is  a young accomplished poet from Chicago who is part of the Kuumba Lynx program in his hometown and a freshman at NYU. He performed three pieces, including “dark matter” as a symbol for black people and how they are treated as invisible.

Overall, the night was amazing and showcased some of Howard’s very best. “It was everything I needed and a great way to end the semester,” Janelle, an attendee stated. “It was great and touched on a lot of topics, it just really hit home,” stated by Tariq Gandy, another attendee. The event’s organizer, Kaylen Herring (@tink2x), was proud that the event was a success. ” I feel really good, it was a full house, I wanted to make sure each performer had someone screaming their name and that happened, so I’m just elate.” 


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