Black Student Union puts on their Annual Showcase


Maya Millner, News Editor

The Black Student Union (BSU) told the real story behind the Black Panther Party in its annual showcase, which was held on Friday, Jan. 31 during and after school, as well as on Saturday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m.. The production consisted of acted scenes, documentary segments and musical and dance numbers.

“We focused the story on the founders of the Black Panther Party, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale,” senior and BSU co-president Kalkidan Alemayehu said. “We portrayed the Black Panthers in the way they are supposed to be represented –– as organized, educated and well-respected business men and women. We also showed the reality of the treatment the Panthers received; many of them were … thrown in jail, murdered or fled the country in exile.”

Initially the BSU showcase was going to be a compilation of the best scenes from the novels written by the recently deceased Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Toni Morrison. Alemayehu explained, “As the preparation for that idea progressed, however, BSU advisor Mrs. Kinema Ivra, my co-president Rain [Parham-Ivra] and I agreed that we couldn’t find a captivating theme with these different novels and were more excited with the Blank Panther idea.”

Junior and cast member Jacob Viyuoh said, “The audition process was two days, and it was a fairly easy process.”

The cast list was emailed over winter break and rehearsals began the first day of the spring semester.

“We had rehearsal from 3:15 to 5:30 everyday. Ms. Ivra and Rain worked with actors, while Koa, Endacha and I taught the rest of the dances,” Alemayehu said, “The band, comprised of Salma Durra, Charlie Ziman, Malcolm Hobert and Mateo Mazariego worked on the music and the singers. Ms. Fracc entered the scene later to clean up the blocking as well as tighten up the script with some students from the drama department; we could not have done the show without them!”

Alemayehu explained the importance of the BSU showcase by saying, “We put on the showcase every year to educate students on campus about a portion of Black history that isn’t represented in the academic curriculum; we felt that the story of the Black Panther Party was one that was too significant to go unrepresented.”

Alemayehu continued: “More generally, the annual BSU Showcase also gives black students a space to represent themselves in the VAPA department. Many students on campus are afraid of putting themselves out there and being part of the drama department because they don’t see people who look like them in many of the shows. Therefore, BSU attempts to provide them with the exposure of performing they need to pursue the arts.”