The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

CBS showcase to call for action from the student body

Last year’s CBS Showcase offered unforgettable acts, and this year’s will not be different. From back to front: Taylor Gaskins ’20, Jamal Poole ’19, Max Hill ’20, Alexus Williams ’17 and Brianisha Frith ’19.

Concerned Black Students (CBS) will host their annual Black History Month Showcase, tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. Although the date is March 2, CBS events coordinator Autumn McMillan ’20 has termed the date “February 31” as a nod to the leap year and to celebrating a full Black History Month. The Showcase will feature singing, acting and dancing as well as other performances by members of the CBS community.

Dixon Romeo ’16 founded the Showcase in 2015. According to McMillan, Romeo intended the event “to showcase the abilities of the Black community … and the myriad of ways that Blackness can present itself.” However, “Over the years [the Showcase has] developed into more of a talent show celebrating Blackness, … incorporating different elements, whether it be using [the Showcase] as a platform to push a certain message or using it as a platform for us getting together and being free without having to be censored.”

McMillan explained that the CBS organizing committee aims to focus the showcase around a specific theme. CBS’s theme for Black History Month as a whole is “Celebrating Blackness: United in our sameness, strengthened by our difference.” The theme for the Showcase is more specific: FUBU, an acronym meaning “For us, by us,” referring to art created by Black people for Black people.

“This year there’s been a big change as [CBS President] Simonne Carlton ’18 wanted [the Showcase] to have a complete storyline giving it a theme, giving it intentionality, giving it purpose, so that it’s not just ‘Oh look what we can do,’ but it’s actually sending a message from the Black community,” McMillan said.

McMillan hopes that CBS can reach a wider audience of Grinnell students through the event, as she feels many of the struggles faced by Black students at Grinnell go unnoticed by the majority of the student body.

“The goal of the showcase is to have a larger turnout for this year in hopes that we can reach more ears and [attract] a more diverse audience so that we can push the agenda of CBS which is that we want our spaces and we want to have control of those spaces and we want to be in the room with the administration when they are making decisions [about those spaces],” McMillan said. “The issues that are facing the CBS community are so insular. No one really knows about them unless they’re a part of the community. It’s unfortunate that none of our peers know about the struggles we’re facing on campus.”

Concerned Black Students met in the Grille in 2017 to discuss issues that affect the Black community, which in turn affect the student body as a whole. Contributed.

In addition to more substantive struggles, McMillan noted that organizing the event proved to be challenging due to the busy schedules of the members of the planning committee. While the Student Government Association is funding the event in full, committee members faced “deadlines, applications, papers [which] created a lot of obstacles for us with the nuts and bolts,” McMillan said. “But at the end of the day I’ve been involved with theater for almost all my life and I know that if there’s a show to be had, the show will get done.”

McMillan’s theater background will come into play at the Showcase, as she organized her own performance featuring a mixture of step dance and spoken word performance. McMillan is excited about the combination of history, innovation and collaboration that the performance represents.

“I’m starting a step team here and I was the captain of my step team in high school so [step is] near and dear to my heart. This year we are borrowing a step from one of the member’s old squads and layering spoken word on top of that. So it’s going to be a performance art piece.”

McMillan noted other exciting acts such as a standup performance by Tyler Williams ’19 and Michael Lee ’18. She added that she was extremely excited for an act by Errol Blackstone ’20, which will be a performance of the song “Sandcastles” from Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” album.

“I’m so ready for it,” McMillan said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *