Celebrating Black History month with X-Night

A large group of students participated in X-Night, which was formerly known as poetry night. – Shannon O’Brian

waited to hear some amazing poetry. On the evening of February 21 the X-night formerly known as poetry night took place as part of the celebration of Black History Month. This was only one of many events in February for Black History Month, each celebrating the diversity and inclusivity at our school.  

X-Night, formerly known as poetry night, was given a name change in honor of Xavier Sales, a Maryville College student who passed away suddenly on May 8, 2017. Xavier was a senior in the year of his passing, and the loss was a large blow to many fellow students and faculty members. He was a bright presence on campus, and all who knew him were pulled in by his warm spirit and energetic personality. The re-naming of this event, along with other tributes around campus, helps to keep his memory alive in the wake of his death.

During the event, many Maryville College students took the stage either to read their own works or poems by their favorite writers.  No matter the origin of the works, each piece held significant meaning to those reading them, and it showed in their performance. Each speaker demonstrated passion in their recitals, spurred on by personal motives and events that are happening in the world. From issues regarding race and gender, to mourning the loss of a loved one, these students poured their hearts out in front of their peers in a place where their voices could be heard, appreciated and understood.

The Black Student Alliance (BSA) spread the word about this event, and many students signed up in order to read some poetry. A few of the students wrote their own poems about past experiences or the struggles of others, including one student who wrote in honor of their cousin who had been killed earlier in the summer. Others read poems from authors such as E.E Cummings, Dead Eye Dick, and William Shakespeare. There were even two students who read poems in honor of Xavier Sales, commemorating his memory even further in this event. Since this was an event held to celebrate Black History Month, many of the poems read dealt with the oppression that African Americans face in this society and called for change in this treatment. Going along with this theme of awareness for injustice, some students took a different route by going further into the issue, talking about women’s rights for women of color and the difficulties faced by them. All of the poems were read and met with appreciative snaps from their peers, mimicking a poetry slam.

Throughout the night, the students in the audience were captured by the words of their peers as they spoke powerful words concerning injustices, differences and change. It was an important event concerning Black History Month, made even more powerful by the memory it was honoring.

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