I’m Grateful for Shepherd’s Speakeasy on Black History Month and the growth it gave me

I had no idea there would be a speakeasy happening back in February.

I was approached by El Lepp, the SU Gender-Sexuality Alliance President and part of the Multicultural Leadership Team, about it since Brooklyn Gholston, another member of MLT who worked alongside Multicultural Student Affairs and Black Student Union, was looking for people interested in performing.

I said yes because I wanted to experience everyone’s stories shared with the audience for Black History Month. 

The event took place Feb. 16 in the Student Affinity Center, or the old dining hall, behind the nursing building where the old dorms were torn down. Many people helped make mocktails and put together the stage we were on.

Along with Lepp and Gholston, Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Dr. Chiquita Howard-Bostic and Assistant Professor for Contemporary Theater Studies Program K.B. Saine partnered up and helped provide costumes and the space to make this happen.  

Everyone was excited to be a part of this, Kayla Davis and I included, as well as others from Rude Mechanicals.

For my part, I had a solo and a duet with Davis. I was never one to sing in front of people since I wasn’t very confident in my singing abilities, but after my nerves settled when I heard the music start playing, I thought back to all the times I practiced on my own.  

The feeling it gave me when I finally hit the high notes that were giving me trouble, or the feeling it gave me when I heard people respond to the low notes that hit everyone’s soul. Luckily, my parents were in the audience, and the looks on their faces when I saw them after the performance gave me more confidence in my growth from when I started college to now.

It was a profound bonding moment for me, where I saw my parents really proud of how their child got the chance to be a part of something that is not discussed in the world.  

Every performer had worked hard with their pieces, and it was clear the audience was ecstatic about what they were seeing. There was also a performance with the SU Jazz Ensemble near the show’s end. Gholston also provided some historical background between each person’s sets so they had time to set up and ease the audience into the next segment.  

I was thoroughly pleased with the outcome of everyone’s support and passion for this performance. It shows that many unique ideas can come to life with much backing. Although it was a one-time event, maybe there could be many events like what MLT and BSU had put together and shared with the rest of campus and community members. 

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