Poetry, vocals honor local poet’s life

Christopher Turner, senior management major (left), daron Harris, freshman mass communication major (middle) and Jeremy McCadney, junior public relations major, sing My Girl, dring the Langston Hughes Celebration in Webster Hall auditorium Feb. 25.

Christopher Turner, senior management major (left), daron Harris, freshman mass communication major (middle) and Jeremy McCadney, junior public relations major, sing “My Girl,” dring the Langston Hughes Celebration in Webster Hall auditorium Feb. 25.

Auriel Brown

In an evening filled with poetry and harmonizing, the 13th annual Langston Hughes celebration began.

On Feb. 25, students and faculty gathered into Webster Hall auditorium to celebrate the birthday and works of Langston Hughes.

Marc Lloyd of student enrollment was the master of ceremonies. He led an evening of what he hoped would be “a lot of joy, fun and entertainment.”

Lloyd, who has been involved with past Langston Hughes Celebrations, took an interest in Hughes at an early age.

He said people would come to engage in the message and listen to what the speaker had to say.

“There’s something about someone with talent,” he said. “When you have the opportunity to read what they’ve done and just immerse yourself in that talent, you begin to understand the limits that you place on yourself. You begin to understand how much further you can go.”

Dr. Doris Walters, professor of English and director of the event, introduced the event.

Christopher Turner, senior business management major; Jeremy McCadney, junior public relations major and Daron Harris, freshman mass communications major opened with an a cappella, “Joyful, Joyful” after the introduction.

They later performed “My Girl.”

That same trio also performed at the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration luncheon.

Both McCadney and Harris said they like to perform in these events to bring smiles and brighten up the night.

Harris also said singing is soothing when he feels lost in the world.

Along with the choral selections were the readings of “Madam and Her Madam” and “Madam and Her Calling Card” by Michael Rodgers, professor of English.

Several students said one of the most compelling performance of the evening for the audience was the reading of “Let America Be America Again” by Alexis Mallory, junior speech communications major. This performance was accompanied by Josiah Prieto, freshman biology major, on the trumpet.

“I thought it was exceptional,” said Whitney Hornaday, freshman undecided major.

The evening concluded with the several poems and excerpts read by Nelson, including “A Strange Beautiful Woman” and “You Are Not Your Body.”

James West, member of the Joplin chapter of the NAACP, said he was pleased with Nelson’s visit as well as the growing interest in the event.

“Each year the crowd gets bigger,” he said.

“I see more students coming out to hear about Hughes, so I think it’s a plus for us.”

Nelson said Langston Hughes’ work is what inspired her to become a writer.

“It’s an honor to be reading in his honor,” she said.

“He had an extraordinary amount of courage to speak about injustice not only in the United States, but all around the world.”

Turner said to him, Hughes was a pioneer of his time for black poets.

“He was dedicated to liberty and freedom, the values which are so central to our experience as a people,” Nelson said.