Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Celebrating Black History Month

As the Hofstra community entered the Plaza Rooms today during the common hour, they were immediately drawn in by the rhythms of Muddy Waters leading them to Hofstra’s Black History Month Reception. A slide show engaged the participants with highlights of some leaders and moments that have shaped the experiences of the Black community within the United States, including the 50th anniversary of  President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation  and  the 50th anniversary of many momentous civil rights events, including the Great March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his historic “I have a Dream” speech.

Keynote Speaker Sherley Cherenfant
The keynote speaker was Hofstra Alumna (’93) Sherley Cherenfant, who is the Controller/Operations Manager of the non-profit ERASE Racism, an organization that promotes racial equity in the community. Sherley began her presentation with a thought-provoking video. She encouraged the audience to educate yourself about your own prejudices in order to understand why and how they were developed. She emphasized the need to continue to have the hard conversations about racism and other forms of prejudice with friends, family and community. Civility can only thrive through self-reflection of oneself coupled with such dialogues of understanding. She encouraged students to get involved at Hofstra, which will lead them to develop skills necessary beyond graduation. She also stressed the need to find one’s passion and to use that energy toward service of those less fortunate. Sherley left with a message that we all must look after one another, and when injustice occurs we must use our privilege-in whatever form it comes in- to stand up for others.
Koro Koroye performs a poem she wrote.

The program concluded with Koro Koroye, a 1st year graduate student pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree, sharing with the audience a poem she wrote called, “Michelle,” which is her tribute to First Lady Michelle Obama. The poem can be found below along with a link of Koro performing the poem (not at this event). With vigor and certainty in her words, we were left with inspiration and pride.

I encourage you to look at our Black History Month calendar, and continue the celebration by participating in our events throughout the month.

By Koro Koroye
Click here to see Koro's Vimeo video of this poem.

If Disney princesses could escape
from their enchanted castles,
if they could grow out of their
corsets and frilly dresses,
I bet they would want to be like you.
I know regret is a human emotion,
A weakness we only feel
but I wonder if God ever calls
with feathers in his voice
asking that you return to your birthplace;
excuse my blasphemy,
but it never made much sense to me
how an angel could walk
amongst mere mortals and still
be so humble,
so pure,
so free of Barbie doll defined perfection
but still so perfect.
I bet Egypt knocks at your door
every night begging that you wear
a crown even for a night
and show women with
dark skin African complexions
that beauty is not something
that can be powdered or blushed,
it’s something in the way you
carry yourself with the strength
of 300 Greek warriors,
it’s something in the way
the tsunami wave of your voice
hits the shallow minds of men
who see our bodies as objects,
they treat us like subjects
and expect us to greet them as kings
but you Michelle,
you have shown us that a man
cannot walk without the spinal cord of a woman,
you are the backbone holding up
the body of a nation
and I can only pray that the earth
someday welcome my feet like they do yours
and I hope you continue to inspire
the butterfly wing heartbeats
of a million hopeful girls
who have no choice but to grow up in a world
filled with too many frogs
and not enough glass slippers. 


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