Annual dinner gives perspective

By Tabassum Ali

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The annual Progressive Dinner, held by the Black Student Union, took viewers on a virtual tour of African-American history. This year’s theme was traveling back in time from modern-day America to their roots in Africa.

Amber Horn, chair of Black History Month, said she wanted people to learn the African-American history that is beyond Martin Luther King (Jr.) and Malcolm X.

“We wanted to focus on the fact we come from kings and queens and we’re not what the media makes us into,” said Horn, an integrated strategic communications senior. “We come from something better and it’s still within us.“

BSU president and business management junior Micaelah McAlpine felt it was important that people learned about African-American history.

“I hope this will be an eye-opener for some,” McAlpine said. “For others, (it will be) a powerful and uplifting thing to know where you came from.”

The night started with a walk through a virtual modern day America. Actors sobbed and lied on the floor, simulating the tragic events surrounding the deaths of Michael Br­own, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner.

Going down the stairs and through corridors, students held signs reading, “Black Lives Matter,” and “Being Black Isn’t A Crime.”

The next floor took attendants into the 1800s to a scene at a slave auction. The scene portrayed auctioneers selling the slaves, and the audience participated through a fake bidding war.

Economics freshman Thomas Neuteufel was asked to take part when he was studying in the Martin Luther King Center.

He played the role of a slave auctioneer and felt that this was an important event.

“It is a walk through history, a visual representation where people can reflect on what’s happening,” Neuteufel said.

Attendants were then transported to a plantation where slaves were in cotton fields to show the life of a slave in the 1800s.

Finally, the performance depicted life in Africa.

The night ended with a spoken word performance by Joshua Middleton, an English and pre-pharmacy junior.

“It was about African-American history with a modern twist,” Middleton said. “I want people to appreciate the history and where we are now and how far we have to go.”