Ben Mehic, Managing News Editor
On Saturday, Dec. 3, Michael Jackson’s voice rang through the Utica College Library Concourse as students crammed for finals week in the floor above.
The Black Student Union had hosted a free Kwanzaa dinner to students on campus, with an array of soul food, classic music and live African drumming available to anyone who wanted their senses pleased.
Gianna Boone, who’s the historian and promoter of the BSU, believes there’s a lack of knowledge about Kwanzaa on the UC campus and hopes that events such as the free dinner will help people step outside of their comfort zone.
“It’s important that people see the diversity of the Utica College campus,” said Boone, a sophomore. “This event helps people learn about other peoples’ culture on campus.”
Kwanzaa, which is celebrated from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, wasn’t listed in a FiveThirtyEight poll that surveyed over 1,000 people on their favorite holiday.
“I just want us to educate others about the African American culture,” Boone said. “There’s not enough being done. I’m hopeful more will be done because the freshmen class will have a big voice. There’s a lot of them and it takes a lot of people to make a change.”
Freshman Ramiah Jordan joined BSU during her first semester at UC and also thinks there’s a lack of awareness about Kwanzaa on campus. Like Boone, Jordan is hopeful that events such as the Kwanzaa dinner will help open the eyes of those who aren’t aware of black culture.
“These events show the positivity black people bring,” Jordan said. “People often associate black people with drama, but this is a drama free event.”
“Kwanzaa” is derived from a Swahili term and is traditionally celebrated to remind people of their cultural heritage.
Zorkie Nelson, a drummer from Ghana who currently lives in Schenectady, was enthusiastic about getting the opportunity to share his culture with the BSU and other students at the dinner.
“We wanted to give them West African music, drumming and dance from Ghana,” Nelson said. “I’m so glad I was here to share our culture with the students. In our culture, our music can teach you different things. It teaches you how to live your life. It teaches you respect.”
As Jayson Bretton played disc-jockey alongside Nelson and his drumming crew, junior Timothy Smith helped Patricia Gortmon put the final touches on the dinner – a soul food setup next to the entrance.