‘The Strong Black Woman is Dead’
Program Looks at African-American Women’s Roles
By Cameron White
On Wednesday, February 29, 2012, at 7:00 PM, in room 102 of the Center for Learning and Technology, The Junior Class and the National Council of Negro Women hosted the program “The Strong Black Woman Is Dead” on Feb. 29 in CLT 102, which consisted of monologues, songs, dancing, poems and video presentations focused on the black woman.
The evening’s events were opened with the “Negro National Anthem,” vocals by Ms. Lauren Bell, and Ms. Symone Jordan signing the song in American Sign Language. Following the song was a formal welcome given by Mr. and Miss Junior.
The first act on the program was the Bowie State University Dance Ensemble performing an African dance piece. As the dancers twirled and leaped high about in the air, the audience looked on in awe as they were taken on a journey to the rhythmic sounds of African drums and gourds.
Next, the members of NCNW read several monologues dedicated to African-American women in history. These monologues spoke of the lives of Coretta Scott King, Mary McLeod Bethune, Harriet Tubman, Marian Anderson, Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, and Michelle Obama, just to name a few. The monologues expressed the many sacrifices and contributions that African-American women have made to society through the years.
Chinelo Ezeka graced the stage next reciting a poem titled “The Strong Black Woman Is Dead,” while the theme music from the popular movie For Colored Girls played in the background. Her poem touched on some of the trials and tribulations that the black woman has endured. Those topics included slavery, rape, sexism, interracial relationships, abortion, being a single mother; physical, mental, and emotional abuse, and more.
As Ezeka read the poem, there was an interpretive dancer moving elegantly on the stage. The crowd’s response throughout the poem was pure silence as Ezeka rocked the room with her powerful emotion while reciting. By the end of the reading, the whole room roared its applause for her as she exited the stage.
After a brief intermission, the program resumed with a video tribute to Sarah Baatman. In the video, the narrator spoke of the degradation of the black woman back during slavery and also in today’s society.
Deirdra Petyon followed a poem titled “Ain’t I a Woman.” There was also a tribute to the late Whitney Houston that followed a dance piece by the African Student Association. The Black Male Agenda organization was in attendance as well, and they read a poem in dedication and appreciation to the black woman titled, “Respect to a Woman.”
The program concluded with Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman” that was recited by four young women: Abiola Olasewere, Guinelle Samuels, Shealea Steals, and Samantha Taylor. A dance piece performed by the Bowie State Dance Ensemble was the final act.
“What I loved most about this program was “The Strong Black Woman Is Dead” poem, recited by Ms. Chinelo Ezeka,” said Gwendolyn Richardson, 22, a Bowie State senior. “She captured the hearts of the audience with her intense emotions. I also thought that the interpretive dancer in the background added the artistic visuals and dramatic effects to the poem as well.”
Closing remarks and special thanks were made by Ezeka, junior class president and NCNW Chapter President Jasymne Herring.