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Annual Jean Augustine Chair event shines spotlight on Black artists

Annual Jean Augustine Chair event shines spotlight on Black artists

Dancer Coco Murray and 3 drummers performing at last year's (2022) Word, Sound, Power Black History Month event at York University

Members of the York University community are invited to celebrate Black artistic talent during a showcase of performances on Feb. 7, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., when the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora presents Word, Sound, Power: An Annual Celebration of Black Artistic Expression.

The annual event celebrates the rich and diverse world of Black aritistic expression, promising to be a vibrant showcase of talent, creativity and cultural pride.

Pictured left to right: Carrington Christmas and Isaac Crosby
Carrington Christmas and Isaac Crosby

The event is open to the community and is free to attend. It begins at 5:30 p.m. with a welcome reception in the CIBC Lobby, Accolade East Building at the Keele Campus, and performances will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Tribute communities Recital Hall, Accolade East Building.

The event’s land acknowledgement will be provided by Carrington Christmas, a York alumna, who is an Indigenous anti-racist educator and self-described “Aunty Extraordinaire” with Black Scotian-Mi’kmaw and German ancestry.

Andrea Davis
Andrea Davis

The ceremony will then be closed with an Afro-Indigenous blessing from Isaac Crosby, an agricultural expert of Ojibwe of Anderdon heritage.

Hosting and providing opening remarks will be Andrea Davis, a professor in the Department of Humanities, who recently received an honorary degree in recognition of her work advancing equity, access and justice in post-secondary education.

Also providing remarks before the performances begin will be Jean Augustine, the first Black woman elected to the Parliament of Canada; Samia Hashi, Ontario regional director of Unifor, which sponsors the event; and Robert Savage, dean of the Faculty of Education.

Among the featured performances this year are:

  • solo performances, including song and instruments, dance and spoken word, from students from Greater Toronto Area school boards;
  • a performance from the Oscar Peterson Jazz Ensemble;
  • a performance from the York University R&B Ensemble;
  • a spotlight artistic performance of the evening from Ian Kamau, an artist and designer;
  • a performance from the York University Gospel Choir; and
  • an Afro-Caribbean dance performance by students from James Cardinal McGuigan Catholic High School in the CIBC Lobby during the welcome reception.
Pictured left to right: Anika Forde and Karen Burke
Anika Forde and Karen Burke

This year’s Word, Sound, Power event is put on in partnership with the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, with primary sponsorship from Unifor. York’s Division of Equity, People & Culture has also provided funding support. The Faculty of Education – home to the Jean Augustine Chair – and the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, through faculty member Davis, also play a critical role in the event.

Anika Forde, research project manager for the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora, and Karen Burke, Chair of Music, were co-conveners of the event this year.

Those interested in attending can register for free tickets on Eventbrite.

Article originally posted in the February 2, 2024 issue of Yfile