Forensics team celebrates black excellence

WKU Juniors Lyric Davis, from Kansas City, Mo. (left) and Durwan Green, from Dallas, Texas (right) perform a duo interpretation of “Things Never Said” by Charles Murray during the Black Excellence Exposition hosted by WKU Forensics on Feb. 28. The piece aimed to highlight the plight of domestic abuse experienced at higher rates by African American women.

Kalee Chism

The WKU Forensics Team put together the second-annual Black Excellence Exposition in Downing Student Union auditorium Tuesday to discuss issues of social justice.

The auditorium was filled with excited students and community members as they experienced performances with a range of socially-conscious themes, from domestic violence to racism within the beauty market. 

Emcee Damon Brown opened the show, which was followed by speakers such as a singing performance by Essence in Harmony, a poetry interpretation by Brent O’Connor, a prose interpretation by Andrea Ambam, an after-dinner speaking by Kayla English, a step performance by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., a guest speaker from the Bowling Green #BlackLivesMatter, a duo interpretation by Lyric Davis and Durwan Green, closing remarks by English, Ambam and Davis and closing out with a poetry interpretation by Asha Wasuge. 

According to Brown, the Exposition was meant to be interactive, with audience members snapping and singing praises of “Hallelujah.” 

The exposition took place in celebration of Black History Month, but Kayla English, who helped put the event on and a sophomore English major from Indianapolis who also performed,  “Aw Word? Shade in the Beauty Industry,”  at the event, says it’s about more than just celebrating a month.

“We decided to this because, one: it’s Black History Month, and two: it’s very important to shed light on all of the problems that do face our community,” English said. “Because they are very complex and feel like it’s very important to hear it from the horse’s mouth essentially, just so you can get all the nuance, and things like that, and we’re also in control of the message and take advocacy in our own hands and also just lay the ground for other people to feel empowered to take advocacy in their hands too.”

Paige Byrde, a senior music education major from Bowling Green, said she hopes this event can help spread the message of her generation’s efforts to form an all- inclusive society. Byrde performed “Lift on Every Voice and Sing” and “Ride on Jesus” with Essence in Harmony at the event.

“This generation, despite it’s short-fallings, is a very much informed generation and that we want to be a part of building this community and making the necessary changes for this community to be all-inclusive,” Byrde said.

English hopes events such as the exposition will help the community to form a more open dialogue about social issues, such as racism.

“I hope for the students that came that it is something that they talk about, that it’s something they were impacted by,” English said. “Hopefully we shed light on issues that either they didn’t know existed or now they think about it in a different way and they share that, and they talk about it, because the most important part of advocacy is talking about it and spreading those messages and learning, and I feel like that’s very important.”

Both English and Bryde are hoping the frequency of these events will increase outside of just Black History Month.

“I hope [events like this] impact the campus by becoming more frequent,” said English. “I feel like this shouldn’t just be a thing that is appropriate during Black History Month, but throughout the entire year, and I hope they start happening more frequently.”

“It’s something that people only do during Black History Month,  but I think that it needs to occur, open conversations and things of this nature to happen often,” Byrde said.

Byrde said the performances were her favorite part, calling them “very moving, very relatable, very understandable, very eye-opening, very convicting.”

Seeing the team’s hard work pay off on the night of the exposition made the effort worth it, according to English. 

“My favorite part of this whole experience is tonight, watching it come together,” English said.”It was a lot to put together, so actually seeing it come together, and the turn out, and people enjoying themselves was really great to actually know that our hard work did pay off and people were impacted by this was really, really amazing,” said English.

Byrde hopes the event will encourage students to get involved and to embrace who they are.

“[I hope the people that came to this event can learn] to be unapologetically black, and proud of who you are, where you come from and to be involved, whether it be with Black Lives Matter or anything else, just to be an active participant in your community and in your country,” Byrde said. “Don’t be silent.”

Reporter Kalee Chism can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected].