November 09, 2022

Black Students’ Alliance Welcomes Sybrina Fulton for 50th Annual Black Power Rally at the Wharton Center

The Michigan State University Black Students’ Alliance, or BSA, is hosting its 50th annual Black Power Rally on Sunday, Nov. 13, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, Great Hall. 

The Black Power Rally, or BPR, is a historical tradition at MSU, led by the BSA, who work closely with their adviser from the Office of Cultural & Academic Transitions, Jason Worley. The rally has become a tradition in the Black community at MSU since the early beginnings of the BSA, circa 1969. Every year, students involved with the BSA come together with a sense of stern consciousness and urgency in concern for the state of Black America.

The event cultivates awareness about the histories, narratives and everyday experiences of the African diaspora through the medium of art, music, dance, spoken word/poetry and intellectual skits, produced and executed by students across campus. Furthermore, the BPR strives to ignite social activism and coalition building across identities at MSU. 
“BPR, to me, represents the essence of Black empowerment within MSU. Every year we set aside learning objectives we want our audience to take in throughout the skits and which our speakers focus on,” says MSU BSA President Marcus McDaniel Jr. “This being the 50th, we want to go big and take into account what our students go through on a day-to-day basis while remaining entertaining and informative.” 

The event is a team effort. MSU BSA Vice President Drue Bender served as lead script writer and co-director of the show this year. “With the help of the BSA executive board and BSA members throughout the process, we were able to make our ideas come to life in a modern, relatable way.” 
Planning the milestone 50th BPR comes with a sense of responsibility for all involved. “I'm so grateful to be a part of the celebration and a part of BSA history,” says Bender. “This rally is so important to the Black community at MSU because it gives us a platform to see us represented on this campus. This is a moment every year where we know the spotlight is on us, and we get to do it our way: a show for us, by us. So, this year we wanted to involve the Black community as much as we could to come celebrate our culture our way. This is what drew us to our theme, which is ‘The BlackPrint: Our Culture Can Not Be Cancelled,’ because us carrying on a legacy of the BPR for the 50th year shows that we cannot and will not be cancelled; our presence on this campus and in society is here to stay.” 

Not only is the rally an arena to spread consciousness, it’s a celebration of Blackness. As stated on the BSA’s website, “When Stokely Carmichael coined the term Black Power, it was used as a force to empower and unify Black [people] while creating a strong racial identity.” Over the years, Black figures from across the country have participated in the event, including Dick Gregory, Sister Souljah, Dead Prez and Jeff Johnson. 

This year’s keynote speaker is author, activist and founder of the Trayvon Martin Foundation, Sybrina Fulton. As stated in her bio, “Fulton dedicates her life to transforming family tragedy into social change.” 

Fulton has become an inspiring spokesperson for parents, social justice activists and concerned citizens across the country since the murder of her 17-year-old son, Trayvon Martin, in 2012. Co-authored with Tracy Martin, her book, “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin,” shares the story of her son’s tragically foreshortened life and the rise of a movement that awoke a nation’s conscience. 
McDaniel shares his excitement for this year’s keynote, saying, “We are bringing an advocate for the unheard voices. We want to inspire hope and call for change within our community, which Ms. Fulton exemplifies by explaining how change is constant within our society. Through the Trayvon Martin Foundation, we can see how she aims to create awareness of racial profiling and gun violence that is prevalent within our community and recurs in our community without fail.” 

Bender is equally enthusiastic, saying, “For us to be able to be in the presence of such a monumental activist for our generation is not only inspiring but also a very humbling experience. And I am very appreciative she is willing to come share her wisdom with us. This is a moment you truly could never recreate.”
“We look forward to bringing a show displaying Black excellence while entertainingly teaching about our struggles,” says McDaniel. The BPR has evolved yearly to prepare the Black student body. From being the ‘BlackPrint’ to ‘Welcome to the Cookout’ to ‘When We See Us,’ each of these themes elicits the climate of the campus and how we must evolve and combat the world around us.”
Being the “BlackPrint” means taking on a particular sense of responsibility and agency to support the community. As McDaniel’s says, “The legacy of this BPR continues and keeps in mind our predecessors, because we would not be able to do this without them. Time and time again, it is proven that we must lean on each other.” 
Please RSVP here to be guaranteed a seat. 
And follow the BSA on Instagram @msu__bsa and visit their website to learn more. 

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