Special guest Marc Bamuthi Joseph offers powerful words on Black life in America

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Reese Dahlgren 

In celebration of Black History Month, the Branson community held a special event featuring the presentation of activist and educator Marc Bamuthi Joseph.

A former Branson Gallard Fellow and vice president of social impact at the John F. Kennedy Center of Performing Arts, Joseph displayed a mastery of the arts, particularly in spoken poetry and film. He began his presentation with a poem exploring the meaning of Black mentality and its legacy as a both symbol of cultural beauty and tragedy. 

“It was very powerful,” Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion JuanCarlos Arauz said. “He uses an authentic voice to speak the truth about the realities of being a Black man in this country, but also spoke about love, freedom and empowerment.” 

Arauz agreed with Joseph’s overarching message that love is the most powerful force in the world and creates a beloved community in its wake.

Joseph also emphasized the importance of systemic allyship, the counterpart to systemic racism. He argued that emotional freedom comes from a culture of shared responsibility, and achieving  “anything is possible, but the most prevalent is the adjacent.” 

Director of Admissions Nathalio Gray said that Joseph’s speech inspired him, especially his emphasis on systemic allyship and solidarity. “That’s what it’s going to take to reach our goals,” Gray said.

The student body responded to Joseph’s presentation as well. When asked if they would want Josephx to speak at Branson again, the majority of students answered yes, saying that his eloquence in spoken word was inspirational and empowering.  

Through an anonymous poll, a student said, “He was extremely inspirational for the entire community, and having a speaker that can speak to various audiences — as Branson inhabits students of various backgrounds — it is crucial to make sure that these conversations continue to happen; He is one of the ways that positive change will start in our community.”

To many of the Branson students and faculty, Joseph’s presentation impacted their greater understanding of the celebration of Black history. 

Gray said, “For me as a Black man in America, Black history is just a moment in time to celebrate past and future achievements of Black people.”

While celebrating Black History Month for 28 days helps people recognize its significance, Gray hopes that it will become a part of people’s day to day curriculum and establish an unwavering commitment to honoring Black history and culture.