‘Jack and Jill of America’, ‘NAACP Youth Council’ Showcase Black Culture through Talent

Photo Credit / Charlese Freeman Star Davis performs a liberating contemporary dance routine.

Charlese Freeman

Student Life Editor

A collaboration between Monroe County’s NAACP Youth Council and The Greater Pocono Chapter of Jack and Jill of America organized a celebration of black heritage.

The showcase of black talent demonstrated rich culture, some even predating slavery. The presentation featured a number of performance styles — spoken word, tribal and religious dances, step routines and song selections. Assorted African clothes, smiles, and generations of blacks flooded Stroud 117 on Saturday, Feb. 16.

The event opened with the singing of the black national anthem: “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, paying homage to the song’s cultural significance.

Student groups, as well as local community groups, were involved in making the event colorful and memorable.

ESU’s chapter of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) was present as well as the university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs.

The event capitalized on the idea of black culture and appreciation for the culture. The Greater Pocono Chapter of The Jack and Jill of America was founded Sept. 30, 2018. The organization is led by a group of mothers seeking to strengthen black youth, as future leaders.

The event was special and moved many people in the area. Local poet, Jason Snow, his poet name being “Eskimo Snow” said he was moved by the success of this event.

“I just want to say it’s really nice to see these many people here gather around for a celebration such as this,” said Snow. “I’ve lived in the Poconos for about 12 years, and I’ve never seen so many black people in the same room.

The showcase featured two-step routines. ESU’s Xplosion step team performed an explosive step number full of precision and coordination. ESU’s step team weren’t the only steppers that intrigued the crowd with its sharp moves.

The East Stroudsburg South’s South Side Steppers, although they were much younger (between the ages 13-15), brought the same confidence with every clap and stomp.    

The history of stepping is very rich within African culture, inspired by African foot dances, such as Gumboot.

While the steppers bought the fire, Star Davis bought a jazzy flair to the stage. She performed a contemporary piece to the singer, Pharrell’s, “Freedom.”

The final act, though not considered a youth Cleo Jarvis or “Kwanzaa Mama” as she proudly calls herself, kept the energy high. She ended showcase with a call and response as her performance method. The crowd roared the lyrics to James Brown’s iconic “Say it Loud, I’m Black& I’m Proud”

The James Brown chant concluded the performances. The event was met without generational barriers, people of all ages attended, but the youth were the stars of the presentation. Chartering president Ginger Farrow Williams, Ph.D. highlighted in her final remarks how performances were a celebration of the youth and their many talents.   

Williams gave her respects and introduced both Tameko Patterson and Tiffany Viorla Bellinger-Calder as the “brain children” of the event.

Patterson and Calder made some closing remarks as well as thanking the parents for coming out and supporting their very talented children. Patterson expressed, while she and Calder facilitated, the children did all the work. Calder commended the parents and expressed how blessed she was to attend the event.

Students who showed up were in awe of the amazing talent.

I think it’s super important for us black people to come together and do a lot more events like this. To me, black unity is at the core and center of most of the issues we have. I feel like events like this bring us a little closer than before,” said ESU student, Kyle Nelson.

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