Black Student Union threw their annual Black Love celebration Feb. 23 at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. With three hours of non-stop piano from music sophomore Edmond McGinley and drum riffs from James Balseiro, food catered by Nipomo House of Prayer Church of God in Christ chef Walter Harris, the Black fashion, Black music, Black food and Black love all around was enough to overwhelm BSU president and journalism senior Monique Ejenuko.

“I am so overwhelmed, I am literally about to cry, this is the happiest I’ve been in a long time,” Ejenuko said.

This year’s theme was Black elegance, executed by gold-painted bottles draped with white beads centered on black tablecloths and topped with feathers. Gold-trimmed placards, each with a quote from the late Kobe Bryant: “You gotta do what you love to do,” sat on the white and gold-rimmed plates.

Each of the 55 name places had their own unique words of affirmation, one of which: “You are so amazing,” and on another diner’s: “You are brilliant.”

Words of affirmation were the highlight and focus of the evening. 

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Video by Brady Caskey

BSU officers gave each table around 20 small cards on which attendees wrote individualized personal notes of gratitude for each other.

Chef Walter Harris brought chicken, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, with sauced portobello mushrooms as a vegan option, and peach cobbler for dessert.

Black Love Event Coordinator and electrical engineering senior Amman Asfaw delivered his poem “Freedom of Expression,” which he wrote after a Cal Poly student wore blackface in 2018. 

After Asfaw, McGinley carried a 13 piano solo which included renditions of Earth, Wind & Fires “September” and Stevie Wonder’s “You are the Sunshine of my Life.”

Balseiro gave a history of the drums he was playing for the past three hours: the conga, tumba and quinto, which originated in the Congo. They were adapted and appropriated, he said, away from their Congolese origin, and their beats were the original inspiration for tap dancing and jazz. According to McGinley, American slaves kept their rhythms alive with drum boxes, wooden crates with round holes in one side, which they used as produce storage when slave masters checked on them.

The guests ended the event with an affirmation walk: each blindly walking through an aisle made by their peers, and hearing whispered words of encouragement as they walk through.

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