Annual African Night to cap off Black History Month at UWRF

Posted February 17, 2016

Black History Month events on the UW-River Falls campus will conclude Feb. 26 with the annual African Night, a celebration featuring dancing, a fashion show of different African cultures, and food.

The performance runs from 6-8 p.m. with food available from 8-9 p.m. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place in the Abbott Concert Hall in the Kleinpell Fine Arts building.

African Night is organized by the Black Students Union (BSU). It is just one of the events designed to teach about African culture in a fun and informative way.

Co-president of the BSU Marie-Morella Kponou said that while the annual Soul Food Dinner on Feb. 11 did not see as many participants as she expected, she is hopeful that African Night will be a fun event.

“We have performances, and every year I, or some friends and I, get together and do an event for everyone,” she said. “It is also a cooperation because in the fashion show we have people from the fashion team to help out.”

One of the big new events was the Feb. 17 presentation on campus by Stacey Rosana, a representative of the Black Lives Matter movement in the Twin Cities.

Kponou said she had some concerns about how students on campus might view the organization and its ideas given that they seem polarizing.

“When you hear Black Lives Matter… either you are for or against it, but it would be good to hear what they do and what motivation they have for what they do,” she said. “I am really hoping to have a good environment where people can have an environment where they can share their perspectives.”

While the BSU is planning to bring in some contemporary ideas to campus for Black History Month, Kponou said that the organization is still keeping all the events true to the long tradition of honoring the history of the month and the people it has come to be about.

“All of these events are put up to bring awareness to those who have done things, from the Civil Rights movement to today. We are trying to increase collaboration amongst people,” she said.

Bringing students together for events can be tough, Kponou added, but she said she believes that the core beliefs of the organization are worth exploring with as many people as can be.

“One misconception people have about BSU is that it is only for black students, which it is not,” she said. “It is about talking about issues amongst the African American community, no matter your background. That is another thing we are trying to get across, that just because you are not black does not mean you can’t join in.”