The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Black artists at Iowa feature energetic and emotional artwork

Ashley Morris
Readers performing in Strauss Hall in Hancher Auditorium on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. The Event was entitled 4 Movement Towards Freedom and was a mix of creative celebrations of MLK Day on Monday. (Ashley Morris/The Daily Iowan)

African-American artists at the University of Iowa showcased their creativity in an event Thursday evening highlighting race-related social justice and progress through a wide range of artistic expression.

The event featured spoken-word poetry, music, theater, rap, and photography.

The event, Four Movements Towards Freedom: A Creative Showcase, was part of a series of events observing Martin Luther King Jr. week on campus.

Presented at Hancher, it followed a variety of other events including Che “Rhymefest” Smith’s keynote address, the King Day of Service, an anti-racism workshop, and much more.

In Hancher, a live DJ mixed tracks, beats, and tunes artistically throughout the showcase to set the mood. The catchy beats and clips from various songs created an energetic yet reflective setting.

Audience members perused a display of photography on stage, and students performed spoken-word poetry.

“Just seeing black individuals in a different light like this in society is very important,” said UI student and 2018 MLK Week Committee member Mimi Stubbs. “It’s rare that you see black poets, or black photographers, or black art in the community because of the negative stereotypes that we have.”

Austin Hughes and Marcus Brown [a former Opinions editor at The Daily Iowan]performed a theatrical performance about a grandmother and grandchild discussing their different approaches to the Civil Rights Movement.

RELATED: Sorensen: Catlett Hall’s showcase brings students together

Rap artist Vegas also engaged the audience with his lyrical and music talent.

“The performances were very real and inspiring. Every piece was different and moving in its own way,” UI student Ashley Berta said. “You could feel the energy and emotions of each presenter across the room.”

Stubbs said it is important for the community to come together to show what other people do on campus.

“For example, Vegas, the one who presented, is always doing shows in the community, but sometimes people may not be able to see that,” she said.

MC Simone Banks said the showcase was cosponsored by the UI Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, the Center for Diversity & Enrichment, the Chief Diversity Office, and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

“I think [the events of King Week] are important to be able to commemorate someone who was a great historical figure and a great leader,” Diversity Center Executive Director Nadine Petty said. “Without them, I think it’s very easy for us to forget our history, to forget the past, to forget the struggles, and to forget what got us to this point. It’s an opportunity also for community-building with these various events that occur.”

Petty hopes the spirit of the week will continue throughout the year.

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About the Contributor
Julia DiGiacomo
Julia DiGiacomo, Politics reporter
Julia DiGiacomo is a politics reporter and digital producer at The Daily Iowan. She is a junior majoring in journalism and international relations with a Spanish minor. Throughout her freshman year, Julia worked as a news reporter with a focus on the human rights beat.