West Long Branch: At the first of many MU Black History Month events, University Police Color Guard raised the banner outside on this 60-degree February day. 100 guests filled the Pompeii to hear the choir open with “Lift Every Voice And Sing” and the segue to a dozen students delivering brief quotes from well recognized Black Americans. The two-part ceremony was a serious yet strongly uplifting preamble for the day’s program and the month’s follow-up events.
In the adjoining Versailles Room, poet Monica A. Hand read to students, MU President Paul Gaffney, King Rice, the MU Basketball coach, and various other professors and diversity group members.
Hand read from her recently released first book, “me and Nina”, a reflection on experiences she felt from her self-compelled witnessing of the Nina Simone, singer, songwriter, pianist, stage performer, soul, jazz, and pop idiom star of the late 90s.
She read in the language of the community from which the experiences had come, which made her words so much more meaningful if you red long with her.
The audience leaned forward as she read poetry is in her own style, coloring the words with her emotions The “Q and A “afterward seemed to satisfy her own need to understand how she had performed. “What would you say to help a student who “has the seed in them to write, but just nervous about getting started?” asked one student. “Tell the to write, write and keep on writing. It will come,” Hand replied. “Writing can help heal. It can help one to deal. To deal with pain, domestic violence, loneliness,” she said.
“me and Nina was available for purchase with Hand signing copies of it.
The next Black History event is on February 9 at 1:00 p.m. in the Club Dining Room, Magill Commons. Negro League Baseball expert Larry Hogan will present “Before You Can Say ‘Jackie Robinson’: Black Baseball in America & NJ in the Era of the Color Line.”
On February 21 at 6 p.m. in Wilson Hall Auditorium, Daryl Davis will share stories of KKK rallies, and meetings with Klan leaders unaware of his skin color under his hood.