Boston College’s Black History Month celebration came to a close Friday night with song, food, and powerful testaments to the past.
The dinner and video screening took place in the Cabaret Room in Vanderslice Hall, and was sponsored by the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center and co-sponsored by the Black History Month Committee.
Akosua Achampong, chair of the AHANA Leadership Council, president-elect of the Undergraduate Government of BC, and MCAS ’18, said in her opening remarks that the night’s theme was “celebrating womanhood and empowerment [of women].”
As dinner was served, Phaymus, a hip-hop-based BC dance company, danced to the songs “Ready,” by B.o.B., and “Bad and Boujee,” by Migos.
After this musical interlude, the co-founders of Anawan Street Productions—Rui Lopez, Duane Denny, and Zair Silva—were introduced by Osamase Ekhator, a member of the student dance group Sexual Chocolate and MCAS ’17.
The three men co-founded the visual media company, along with Edilasio Manuel, who was not present at the event, in Brockton, Mass., in Dec. 2015, and now produce video commercials, music videos, and sponsor acting workshops.
Their goal is to create content that will “provoke and entertain” while spreading positive messages of inspiration and hope, Ekhator said.
In early 2016, Anawan Street began production of a 10-episode web series called “Inspired By.” Each episode featured an ordinary person, and focused on the motivations, aspirations, and inspiration that propel them forward through life.
After Ekhator’s introduction, Lopez, Denny, and Silva screened four episodes of the series for the audience, which featured four women—Josefa DaSilva, Elle Silva, Baroneza, and Dagi— and highlighted their unique lives.
DaSilva is a fashion designer who owns and operates a boutique in Boston’s Hyde Park neighborhood. She was invited to display her autumn and winter collections at New York Fashion Week, and her designs have appeared in the Huffington Post.
During her episode, DaSilva said that she strives to be a role model for others aspiring to work in the fashion industry, which is highly competitive, and that she values the connection she feels to the public by providing her unique designs.
“It makes me really proud to to see that people are actually recognizing my work and [that] they’re loving what I do,” DaSilva said.
Baroneza, a poet and founder of the Baroneza Project, a youth creative writing workshop, said that she does so with the hope that young people will find an avenue to express themselves openly, whether in writing or out loud with classmates.
“Poetry is just your feelings on paper, and [writing poetry] is not something that’s difficult to do,” Baroneza said in her episode.
Baroneza emphasized the importance of passion and hope in achieving one’s dreams, and said that it’s crucial to follow one’s innermost desires when pursuing them.
“Not many people can say that they love what they do,” she said. “With art, you have to love what you do to do what you do.”
Dagi, a visual artist and painter, said that her dreams initially faced resistance from her family, who were worried that her art wouldn’t support her financially, but eventually, after realizing the depth of her passion and commitment to her craft, gave her their blessing.
“Stay on the path that you envision,” Dagi said. “Never give up—even if you don’t see the benefits [of your efforts] right then and there.”
In addition to her art, Dagi also works with social services and youths, providing mentorship and counseling.
Silva, a CrossFit trainer and juvenile parole officer, said she derives motivation from the happiness of gym-goers who find their lives enhanced by physical exercise, and from the demanding nature of her profession.
“No matter who you are, you have to put in the work—talent is nothing without desire,” Silva said.
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor