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First-ever ‘Stories of Our People’ event marked the celebration of Black History Month on campus

In honor of Black History month, the Omega Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and the Coalition of Black Students teamed up to present the first-ever “Stories of our People” event last Thursday night in Sheslow Auditorium.

Featuring Teju the Storyteller, Dr. Tom Hill and the Bridges to Harmony gospel choir, the two groups collaborated to form this large celebration of an event by accident.

“Originally, CBS had an event (planned), and the Omega Chapter had a separate event planned that evening,” said Matt Martin, polemarch of Kappa Alpha Psi. “When we realized the events were planned for the same night, we consolidated.”

Thus, the Stories of Our People event was born. From the Kappa Alpha Psi side of the event, the idea began last summer, and the formal planning started last October.

“It has proven to be a logistical nightmare,” Martin said of the planning process. He noted that once the logistics were straightened out, the event became simple to plan.

The evening began with the Bridges to Harmony performance. Bridges to Harmony is a gospel choir from Roosevelt High School that features many deep stories told through music. The choir of nearly 30 students sang heartfelt renditions of classic gospel songs with a modern twist.

Next came Teju the Storyteller of Milwaukee. Teju is a world-renowned storyteller and folklorist, and his stories last Thursday were no different. He performed with traditional African instruments and spoke of some horrible hardships of his ancestors.

The final aspect to the show was a keynote address by Dr. Tom Hill, vice president of student affairs at Iowa State. Hill, also a medalist in the 1972 Olympics, told his story of African-American hardship.

Many visitors were moved by the deep stories of black heritage shared throughout the evening.

What does the future hold for the successful event?

“There has been talk of making it an annual event,” Martin said, “but it is not being planned as an annual event yet.”

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