Stark campus program to honor oral tradition

Julianna Frantz

Students welcome to participate at open mic event

Langston Hughes, Martin Luther King Jr. and Tupac Shakur are just a few of the people students, faculty and staff have chosen to honor by reciting their works tonight during the Celebration of African-American Oral Tradition, an open mic event created to celebrate Black History Month.

The event is scheduled to take place in the Library Conference Room at the Stark campus from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Brenda Smith, English professor and chairwoman of the Black History Month committee at the Stark campus, said the open mic event is structured so anyone can participate. Many students, however, have already signed up.

Senior English major Dawn Winn will recite two Langston Hughes poems and an original poem titled “Let Us Speak.”

“I think that this event will be a great way to allow students on our campus to express themselves,” Winn said. “I love the fact that it is open (to the public). The way that Dr. Smith has presented it makes everyone feel welcome in participating whether by performing or observing.”

Winn said the celebration of oral tradition needs and deserves more exposure.


Senior English Major Dawn Winn will perform at tonight’s Celebration of African-American Oral Tradition at the Stark campus. She will recite an original poem titled “Let Us Speak.”

Let us speak

With audacity and strength

To the walls which hinder our freedoms.

Staggering standards limiting our sight to the other side,

But still we see.

See the things that should be

See the lands meant for our feet.

Let us speak!

Let us speak

Cover not our mouths with banded fingers;

Give back our native tongue.

Whispered groanings are what have been

But they will cease.

Let us speak!

Let us speak

Fear not dissension among our ranks

Revolution is not our voice.

We seek the natural evolution.

Freedom is the only conclusion.

Do not hush the flooding waters of change.

Let US speak!

“In reference to the African-American oral tradition, I feel it is necessary to maintain the foundations of the African-American culture. It is ingrained in my people to be vocal. We inherently express ourselves through song and the oral story,” Winn said. “It enhances interaction between individuals and brings everyone in hearing distance into the family. Many memories of my youth are connected with stories I heard or things that people said, not by things that I saw in writing.”

Marta Minder, senior history and English major, is another of Smith’s students who plans on participating.

“I feel that we should honor African-American history,” Minder said. “It is American history.”

Minder has chosen to recite Audre Lorde’s poem “Solstice.” The poem is an homage to women, Minder said.

The event will also include background music and refreshments.

“I really was hopeful that somebody would maybe sing for us to give us a little variety,” Smith said. “I’m going to provide some music, some of the spirituals. And some more contemporary music that can serve as background for the recitations.”

Smith said if the event runs over, it’s not a big deal.

“Come and sit and be with us, that’s really the spirit, and in the mean time we will all be enlightened,” Smith said. “I hope that it’s a success. If so, we’ll do it again next year. We’ll maybe try to make it an annual thing.”

Contact regional campuses reporter Julianna Frantz

at [email protected].