On Thursday, February 13, nearly one hundred students from all around the county gathered at Richard Montgomery High School for a night of food, fun, fashion—and most importantly, cultural celebration.
This year, RM’s Second Annual African Diaspora Night, hosted by the Black Student Union, was the culminating event after a week packed full of Black History Month festivities; a Spirit Week encouraged students to celebrate their cultural heritage by wearing traditional clothing from their countries of origin, and crowds of students gathered in the main hall during lunch to compete in Kahoots about African American history and culture.
BSU co-president Emnet Kahsay said, “We had a pretty big turnout. We had a lot of food and a Kahoot set up so people were winning prizes. We had a board up so we could showcase the different parts of Africa, the Carribean, black culture in America. Then we had a speech by the first African American female judge in Montgomery County who gave a charge to the youth.”
Students from different schools on all sides of the county came out in support of the event. Performers gave fabulous displays that showcased drumming, singing, and spoken word. From Wootton and Richard Montgomery’s dance teams to Northwest’s forensic team, the auditorium stage was packed with a diverse program celebrating talent from all parts of Montgomery County.
“We wanted to make it an intracounty event where everyone could be involved,” Kahsay said.
The night culminated in a fashion show of African dress, with students eagerly modeling a mosaic of traditional clothing representative of the diverse range of African cultures spread across the US.
The immense success of African Diaspora Night was the result of months of careful planning and organization—preparations began back in October, where they were spearheaded by Kahsay and co-president Jessica Halloway.
Just as they had paved the way to build up a Black Student Union at Richard Montgomery, Kahsay and Halloway were also instrumental for launching Black History Month celebrations at RM, which traditionally did not have any special events celebrating it.
Halloway explained why African Diaspora Night was espcially important,“There’s this huge African Diaspora—there’s this place where essentially, because of slavery and all of that, culture has been spread everywhere. And there are so many different varieties of black culture. There are events that showcase individual cultures, but there isn’t really a time in which black culture is taken into consideration as being a range of cultures.
So we wanted to do something that specifically showcases the ranges between the different countries and the different cultures that exist in the realm of being black.”