“Soul food is good for the soul but starts in the kitchen,” Emmitt Williams said in his informational piece at the annual Soul Food Dinner, which rang true for those who came to celebrate cultural awareness and fill their stomachs. Plates were piled high with fried and baked chicken, collard greens, mac and cheese, jambalaya, corn bread, and the ever popular sweet potato pie. Is your mouth watering yet?
Since 1993, the Black Student Union’s Soul Food Dinner has been an annual event to educate students and the community about African-American culture in a variety of ways. As program of the year last year, there were high expectations in the air that were not disappointed.
“The crowd may have been small but the food was the best I’ve ever tasted it. The entertainment was just as great. It ended on such a great note,” said Lori Graboski-Bauer, the outreach specialist at the Multicultural Resource Center.
Sunday’s event brought out BSU’s motto of “striving to break down negative stereotypes attached to the black community through the promotion of a positive image of our culture” by including the Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a spoken word poem, wonderful food, and dancing by the children’s performance group from the Ko-Thi Dance Company in Milwaukee.
“Based on my definition, it was successful. You could feel the togetherness in all of the people that came. It may not have been packed, but everyone enjoyed themselves and I think we reached our goal of cultural awareness,” said Seiquest Williams, head of the event and president of BSU.
Getting the food together proved to be the longest and most trying task as the kitchen crew had been working from Friday morning until the food was served on Sunday.
“I was amazed at how many students on the exec board and general assembly members stepped up and helped out in the kitchen to make this happen. They were there from 9 a.m.-4 p. m. this past weekend. I was extremely proud and honored to be a part of this event,” Williams said.
The Ton Ko-Thi Children’s Performing Ensemble comprised of individuals 3-18 years old and gave the audience a glimpse into African culture. The dancers wore elaborate headdresses, colorful costumes, and bare feet as they clapped, shouted and danced along with the syncopated music. It was unreal how fast the drummer’s hands were beating on the authentic hand drums that by the end of the performance, their palms ridiculously red. A crowd favorite was a younger drummer with glasses that did the Dougie during his improvised solo.
The mission of the Ko-Thi Children’s Performing Ensemble is not only developing talented children in African traditions. The Ko-Thi Dance Company strives to increase school involvement in these kids by helping them get better grades, develop lifelong social skills, and expose them to new audiences. These kids not only perform alone, but with the adult portion of the company.
If this event has caught your interest, check out other events that promote cultural awareness. The Chinese Lantern Festival, Celebracion Hispana, and the International Dinner are just a few examples of these types of events coming up. Check the UWSP website for more information.