Emma Esteb – Staff Writer
Gustavus Women in Leadership (GWIL) partnered with Pan African Student Organization (PASO) last Friday, Feb. 25 at 7:00 pm in the Center for Inclusive Excellence where they hosted the LC Bloc Party: A Celebration of Freedom. As the last hurrah for Black History Month, these organizations welcomed back R&B and pop artist, Jaki. The event was filled with live music, a DJ, and food from Soul Bowl, a black-owned restaurant in the North Loop of Minneapolis.
The event exceeded expectations as there were around 60 people attending and they ran out of both food and seating. It was an extremely successful event for all orgs that contributed. Junior Victoria Adebisi is the Risk Manager of GWIL and was the event coordinator for the LC Bloc Party where she also worked closely with PASO Black History Month chair, Junior Jenesis Tompkins.
Adebisi pitched this idea to the GWIL in order to capture the promotions of DEI. In her role on GWIL, she promotes inclusivity, equity, and inclusion for the events she wants to carry out. Adebisi collaborated and worked closely with the CIE staff, including Kareem Watts, in order to execute this event and use the space.
Originally, this event was supposed to encompass similar energy to the Lyrical Cafés that have occurred this year. The Lyrical Café is an opportunity for students to perform poetry, hip-hop, rap, or soul music in relation to specific themes of inclusivity and diversity. Even though there were no student performers who signed up for the event, the CIE welcomed Jaki Blue as the main artist that performed and stole the show.
Jaki (@jakiblue_) is an up and coming artist who performed many of her own songs at this event. Students seemed to enjoy the performance, “support, laughs, and hollers that filled the CIE” according to Adebisi. Tompkins and Adebisi shared the stage as they emceed the event. The main goal was to celebrate freedom and that was met through the musical aspect and audience participation.
Since this was the final event of Black History Month, both GWIL and PASO wanted to emphasize the importance of celebration. They wanted this to be a more uplifting event that promotes equality.
A main theme for the LC Bloc Party was the idea of “until everyone is free, no one is free” Adebisi said.
They wanted to showcase black history and women empowerment by creating an environment where everyone is welcomed, appreciated, and invited. Tompkins shared that this event was much needed, “especially with everything going on in the world, especially in the Black Community, there needs to be a safe place for unity, happiness, and tranquility, and there is no better place than the CIE to host the Bloc Party,” Tompkins said.
They used a specific dialect to emphasize the Black history within the name “Bloc Party.”
The name of the event itself is a specific dialect and language used in the black community.
The spelling of the event name, “Bloc Party” is a historically black verbatim. This is a subtle way to incorporate Black history and invite the community into this historical realm.
With that, Adebisi mentioned her thankfulness towards GWIL for their willingness to co-host this event. As an organization, GWIL has historically been a predominantly white organization. “[We are] so grateful for GWIL’s willingness to help with this event and are so proud of how far they have come as an organization,” Adebisi said. She expressed happiness to be part of planning these events that are re-shaping Gustavus and emphasizing the importance of inclusivity and equity. Adebisi shared her thankfulness for this month as they focused a lot on Black History while opening the invitation to all individuals on campus.
This event was full of “staff, faculty, and students that came out not only to celebrate Black History Month but also to show their support for PASO and GWIL” Tompkins said. This was the perfect way to end the Black History Month events. Throughout the month, Gustavus students had opportunities to learn about Black history and come to events, regardless of their race, ethnicity, and gender. Some of these events included, Black History Gospel Hour, the Black History Month Luncheon, and Black History Month Videos.