The Black Student Association (BSA) kicked off Black History Month festivities by hosting ‘Gospel Explosion’ from 6:30-8:30 p.m., Feb. 5, at the McCray Hall Auditorium. The fourth annual event was cosponsored by the office of student diversity and featured performances from the BSA choir, praise dance team (P.D. Team), speakers Bishop Walter Simpson and Pastor Eric Gill, as well as individual performances from members of BSA and the community.
“We always want to celebrate Black History Month… and we wanted to start it off with something exciting,” said La’Sha Thomas, senior in psychology and president of BSA. “We want (an event) where we can all come together and portray our talents and something that involves everyone, with a little bit of entertainment…”
The evening started with refreshments served at 6 p.m. before the main event. The service began with a welcome from the president and vice-president of BSA and Harold Wallace III, advisor for BSA. Throughout the evening, the BSA choir and members of the choir performed traditional gospel songs, including “The Blood Still Works,” “God Made Me,” and “It’s all God.” For one selection, the BSA choir was joined by the Lighthouse Temple Choir, who later performed their own selections of gospel songs.
“Each year, each group- whether it is the choir or the dance team… comes together and picks a song they would like to do and then start… practicing,” Thomas said.
The BSA P.D. team also performed a praise dance, which Thomas said was mainly choreographed by the P.D. team. Individual performances with spoken word poetry were given by Navit Hill, D’Andre Phillips, as well as a duo performance from DeMarcus Edwards and KiArrah Moore.
Two speakers were invited to give messages at the service: bishop Walter Simpson from Pittsburg’s Lighthouse Temple church and Pastor Eric Gill from Tulsa’s Metropolitan Baptist Church. They were asked to speak on the topic of being spiritual in today’s world.
Simpson said he was excited to speak at the event, as they did not have events like these when he attended university.
“To see this now, this is great,” Simpson said. “For the young people to get together and keep this going… because Black History Month is not just about black people, it’s about all people.”
He said he believes Black History Month is very important and should always be celebrated.
“There is a lot of history that is not being told in school books, that black history is a part of American history, not apart from American history,” he said. “As long as people understand that, it will always be great.”
Simpson said he hoped that those who attended the event and listened to his talk would remember to be spiritual.
“… It’s important to be spiritual and to get back to God,” he said. “I think America has gotten away from God, and if we want America to be great again we have got to move back to God and worship Him and come together as people.”
Gill also spoke of the importance of being spiritual in today’s world but focused on the history of African American’s in America and what achievements have been made, as well as the importance of seeing the “bigger picture” in history.
“We can’t romanticize the story because we need the full, unadulterated story,” he said.
He also implored those in attendance to remember their ancestors and how they helped African American people to “rise from oppression”.
“Remember your ancestors and those before you, because you are the manifestation of their dreams,” he said.
Samantha Ruvalcaba, sophomore in Spanish, attended the event to support her friends in BSA, being a member of the organization herself.
“… It was great!” Ruvalcaba said. “It is always great to have something different for the school and see something for the people of Pittsburg to see.”