Cotton Club Week showcases black excellence on campus


kevin Gao

A model checks his pocket and walks down the runway at the Cotton Club Fashion Show hosted by the Central Black Student Union at the Student Dining and Residential Programs Building on Friday. Cotton Club Week, a series of events intended to showcase and celebrate black excellence, took place on campus last week.

By Laszlo Richard Toth, Staff Writer

Cotton Club Week, an annual celebration of black excellence on campus, took place last week for Black History Month.

Cotton Club Week was presented by the Central Black Student Union, which is made up of individual black student associations in each one of the University’s residence halls. The name for the tradition is borrowed from a Harlem Renaissance era club in New York City where many black entertainers gained notoriety. 

The week consisted of events all over campus. Some of the events featured included a Soul Train karaoke night at Busey-Evans Residence Hall, a Gospel Explosion at the Student Dining and Residential Programs Building and a Soul Bowl at the Illini Union bowling alley.

The Florida Avenue Residence Hall branch of the CBSU, Ewezo, hosted Spittin’ Figures on Monday, which informed residents about important African Americans in the arts using the spoken word. 

“It really means a lot to see the students here trying to educate other students about the importance of Black History Month and what Black History Month means to the African American community,” said DeWayne Anderson, resident director at FAR and adviser to Ewezo, who was present at Spittin’ Figures. 

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Anderson noticed that Cotton Club Week gives many students of color a space to take pride in their identities.

“I’m happy to help them, and help give them that space and kind of help create that space for them to express their blackness through Black History Month,” Anderson said.

Closing out the week were the Cotton Club Fashion Show at the SDRP and the Cotton Club Variety Show at Foellinger Auditorium. 

The fashion show, which has been in preparation since October, featured student models in a variety of outfits performing choreographed walks and various theatrics, including homages to “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Mean Girls.” 

“I liked it. It was a lot of diversity in the wardrobes,” said Niles Cusic, student in the AHS who attended the show. “I liked that they had a lot of choreography to it.”

All in all, Cotton Club Week provides an opportunity for Black students on campus to celebrate their heritage.

“(Cotton Club Week) is extremely important, because we do have a great percentage of Black students who attend the University,” Anderson said. “So just making sure that they have a space to actually celebrate Black History Month … it means a lot to me, it really does.”

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