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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

‘Hiplet Ballerinas’ among events to showcase Black culture

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Courtesy Photo | Hiplet Ballerinas
The “Hiplet Ballerinas” fuse dance styles from communities of color and will visit MSU Feb. 29.

Mississippi State University is celebrating Black History Month by hosting on-campus events that feature history, music and the arts throughout February.

Sydney Smith, an undeclared sophomore and president of the Black Student Association, said that many campus organizations are holding events to highlight Black history and Black culture.

IDEAL Women and the Men of Excellence are hosting their IDEAL Week of Excellence, where the two organizations are holding interest meetings, trivia nights and Sunday services during the last week of February. Smith said that the highlight of the week will be the “Talented 100,” an annual showcase serving as a night to highlight Black talent that will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 27 in Bettersworth Auditorium.

Thursday, Feb. 22, the Theta Iota Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma and the NAACP are hosting Black Jeopardy to quiz people on their knowledge of Black history and culture.

Smith said that these organizations have been working hard to plan events that will highlight Black culture all month long.

“I have to try to come up with a lot of social events that would help people in the Black community because we get pushed to the side and not talked about,” Smith said. “That’s what we do at the BSA. We want to take those problems, bring them to light, and talk about them so people are aware of them.”

MSU is bringing two programs to Bettersworth Auditorium through the Lyceum Series, which works to offer students exposure to the performing arts. This month, the 76th Lyceum Series hosted “Cross That River: A Story of a Black Cowboy” on Tuesday, Feb. 6 and will host the “Hiplet Ballerinas” on Thursday, Feb. 29.

Julia Pratt, the coordinator for the MSU Lyceum Series, said that both events fall under the branch of celebrating Black history, Black culture and Black arts and artists.

“Cross that River: A Story of a Black Cowboy” is a musical theater production written, produced and performed by Allen Harris. Harris stars in the performance accompanied by a small, intimate cast and a full-sized band.

“He wrote ‘Cross that River’ as an ode to all the African American men who settled in the South and the West in the early days of America,” Pratt said. “He looks at the role of Black cowboys in their communities and the struggles they went through, not only being cowboys and living out in the wild but also being Black in America. It kind of touches on the stories we don’t often hear when we’re thinking about the old Wild West and Wild South.”

Later in the month, the Hiplet Ballerinas of Chicago are traveling to Starkville to perform their show that presents traditional ballet techniques with urban, hip-hop and Latin American dance.

Pratt hopes that students will try to see both shows.

“Students are going to be coming away with, what I hope to be, a really heartwarming feeling of unity, bonding and how all different types of people can come together but also how important it is to celebrate one another and to celebrate our shared history,” Pratt said. “Part of the Lyceum series is to expose our students and our community to the performing arts and have them come away with these experiences that they might not necessarily have on a day-to-day basis, and especially not for free.”

Tickets for both events are free to MSU students and can be reserved online on the Colvard Student Union website.

The Mitchell Memorial Library is also hosting several activities and events sponsored by the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center. All month, there will be civil rights exhibits on the second floor. DeeDee Baldwin, engagement librarian, said that each day, a different Mississippi civil rights leader will be highlighted.

“Ida B. Wells, Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer — all those people came from Mississippi because we have such a horrible history,” Baldwin said. “I want to highlight the heroes, and it is important for people to know their stories.”

Wednesday, Feb. 14, the Mitchell Memorial Library is celebrating Douglas Day as a part of the national initiative by the Library of Congress to create new and freely available resources for learning about Black history. For the first time, the Mitchell Memorial Library is bringing Douglas Day to campus by hosting a “Transcribe-a-thon,” where students can read his letters and transcribe them on library-provided laptops to make them available worldwide.

Upstairs in the MaxxSouth Digital Media Center, the virtual reality studio is hosting the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. VR Experience Wednesday, Feb. 21. Joy Dubose, extended reality and gaming librarian, said that the experience will explore MLK’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

“You will actually see what it feels like to be pulled over by the police, what you try to do when you try to get a house in certain areas,” Dubose said. “It is designed for people to experience the themes he was talking about. Nowadays, it would be rather difficult to do. Many people cannot even fathom it. This is trying to explain it just a little bit more, to explain what these people were fighting against and fighting for.”

About the Contributor
Kate Myers, Staff Writer
Kate Myers is a freshman communication major. Kate is currently a staff writer for The Reflector.
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