Finding Unity in Black History

On day four of BSU spirit week, students celebrate unity day with games and a live concert

Olivia Metzler, Content Team Editor

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  • Zhang adjusts the tripod and camera to record her partner and co-director Nick Luby performing on The Concert Truck.

  • Guest pianist Susan Zhang plays on The Concert Truck for students and staff spread out across the field.

  • BSU members and officers play Uno in the media center and wear pink to celebrate Unity Day. Photo courtesy of Cloe Barrau.

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The Concert Truck 

Two musicians jolt their hands across the keys of a grand piano. One of them is dressed in a vivid, red dress, the other a black suit and bowtie. They’re playing out of a truck parked in the middle of the soccer field.

Guest pianists Nick Luby and Susan Zhang performed for students Feb. 23 at lunch as a part of Black Student Union’s (BSU) spirit week. By featuring Black composers and Afro Caribbean rhythms, Luby and Zhang focused on conveying Black culture through music.

“As an arts school, we talk about Black history and activism and struggle, but we really don’t honor the different aspects,” Assistant Principal Teneisha Finney said. “It’s engaging for our students here to know Black people also make great music.”  

Students crowded the field, and clapped rhythmically to the music while eating lunch at the encouragement of the performers. 

Luby and Zhang began with “Dance Macabre” by Camille Saint-Saëns, arranged by Zhang, then transitioned to “Three-Day Mix” by Eleanor Albergas, a Jamaican musical composer. Through music and Black history, Luby and Zhang felt a special connection with their audience.

“When you are young, you approach art with such a fresh perspective,” Zhang said. “To share a common language, it’s definitely a connection. It’s very special. Music is such an important part of culture. It’s a way of experiencing storytelling. Incorporating the lens of Black composers is essential.”

For many music majors, the pieces performed were part of their music curriculum. 

“We are performing (‘Dance Macabre’) in a month or two,” piano sophomore Isabella Bernal said about her duet with piano junior Joshua Lumaban. “There’s so much that can be said through music and so much that can be expressed and shown about the culture that can’t be expressed through words.” 

As the performers took a final bow, the crowd dissipated.

“Jazz is such an incredible and central part of Black history,” Luby said after the performance. “Black history changed music forever.”

 

Games

In the media center, Black Student Union held other festivities. Students huddled around groups of tables sprawled with Uno cards and dominos while listening to music, like “I’m a Survivor” by Reba McEntire. 

BSU planned the game day with the goal of bringing people together in the spirit of unity. While answering calls and opening doors, communications sophomore and BSU co-secretary Cloe Barrau also directed the event and encouraged participants to play games. 

“Growing up, if you don’t have a lot of positive examples to look up to, it can cause you to feel isolated, so having an entire month to get together with people who look like you and understand your experiences is really important,” Barrau said.

The room filled with laughter and sighs as competitions heightened. 

“To really be aware of your ancestry and be proud of who you are as a person is important to recognize your history,” visual freshman Jordyn Wilkinson said between the games. “Even when I was little, I used to play games to feel more connected to my family, so I feel like practicing games with other people really lets you share your heritage with others.”

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