The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Spoken-word poetry performance celebrates black history now

Tri-colored lights spilled onto the stage as spoken-word poet Josephus Thompson, commonly known as Josephus III, greeted his crowd with the words, “I am history. You are history. Together, we are history.”

Continuing the celebration of Black History Month, Guilford opened the doors of Dana Auditorium Saturday, Feb. 19, for a free performance by Reasons 2 Rhyme which is part of a series of events that celebrate poetry and community.

“This is our seventh year performing at Guilford College,” said Thompson. “Guilford has been one of our main supporters and has always been on the cutting edge of bringing in conscious entertainment choices.”

The performance, entitled “I am History,” empowered listeners through an interactive blend of poetry, song, live music, and dance. Instead of concentrating on the past, the event focused instead on how history is being shaped now by individual actions.

Poems encouraged the audience to be proactive with their decisions and to create new history by reaching out to others.

“With a spoken-word concert, some people might want to ask how that applies to black history month,” said Thompson. “The fact is, we’re black and we’re making our own history right now.”

The event was sponsored by the Blacks Unifying Society and the Multicultural Education Department

“Every year a significant portion of our club budget goes into putting on this show,” said Brittany Ford, senior and co-president of BUS. “I feel that the show has done very well so far and it’s placement in February rallies a lot of support.

The concert drew in a large crowd. Audience members were not limited to Guilford students. According to Ford, Reason 2 Rhyme’s free performances often attract attention from the surrounding Greensboro community.

“A lot of people come out,” said Ford. “Out of that, I would say about 25 percent are Guilford affiliated.”

Thompson poured his energy into motivating the crowd to take part in the celebrations. Overall, the performers seemed pleased with their reception.

“This is my fourth year with the performances,” said Shayla Rhem, who used her dancing talent to bring motion to the poetry performance. “I love Guilford College. Everyone here really seems to understand the arts and wants to bring understanding and culture to the community.”

Jeremiah Spooner, who played the drums, echoed Rhem’s sentiments at the end of the night.

“I really love playing at Guilford,” said Spooner. “You all feed us your energy. It was a good experience tonight and we were met with great hospitality.”

With a backdrop of vocals, acoustic guitar, and keyboard, Thompson’s inspirational poetry seemed to spring to life on stage. In conjunction with Rhem’s skilled dancing and the work of the lighting team, the performance tantalized both the ears and eyes.

“I’ve been through this many times before, but there’s always a little stage fright,” said Ian Knight, who played the acoustic guitar. “Thankfully it always turns out great in the end.”

Even without the aid of flashing lights, music, and dancing, the weight of importance behind Thompson’s poetry was still apparent. Audience members were treated to bold, inspirational verse about controlling one’s own future and empowering others.

“Using music to teach can be extremely effective,” said Thompson. “It’s the same way you learned your ABCs.”

While unconventional, Thompson’s wisdom was delivered more directly than it could have been in the classroom, drawing out emotion and an overwhelming sense of community from both the performers and the audience.

“I have seen Josephus many times before,” said sophomore Agymah Busch. “His shows are always inspiring and uplifting.”

“We have events throughout the year, but we still want to honor black history month,” said Holly Wilson, director of multicultural education. “It’s still important to keep in mind that black history is something to celebrate all the time.”


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