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Nov. 11, 2022

Black Students’ Alliance hosts historic 50th annual Black Power Rally

The Michigan State University Black Students’ Alliance, or BSA, is hosting its 50th annual Black Power Rally on Sunday, Nov. 13, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, Great Hall. 

Student performers on stage at the 49th Black Power Rally in the Wharton Center.
The Black Power Rally, or BPR, is a historical tradition at MSU, led by the BSA, who work closely with their adviser from the Office of Cultural & Academic Transitions, Jason Worley. The rally has become a tradition in the Black community at MSU since the early beginnings of the BSA, circa 1969. Every year, students involved with the BSA come together with a sense of stern consciousness and urgency in concern for the state of Black America.

The event cultivates awareness about the histories, narratives and everyday experiences of African and African diaspora peoples through the medium of art, music, dance, spoken word/poetry and skits, produced and executed by students across campus. Furthermore, the BPR strives to ignite social activism and coalition building across identities at MSU. 
“BPR, to me, represents the essence of Black empowerment within MSU. Every year we set aside learning objectives we want our audience to take in throughout the skits and which our speakers focus on,” said MSU BSA President Marcus McDaniel Jr. “This being the 50th, we want to go big and take into account what our students go through on a day-to-day basis while remaining entertaining and informative.” 

The event is a team effort. MSU BSA Vice President Drue Bender served as lead script writer and co-director of the show this year. “With the help of the BSA executive board and members throughout the process,” Bender said, “we were able to make our ideas come to life in a modern, relatable way.” 
Planning the milestone 50th BPR comes with a sense of responsibility for all involved. “I'm so grateful to be a part of the celebration and a part of BSA history,” said Bender. “This rally is so important to the Black community at MSU because it gives us a platform to see us represented on this campus.” 

This year’s theme of “The BlackPrint: Our Culture Can Not Be Cancelled” is about carrying on a legacy of the Black Power Rally for the 50th year to show that Black presence at MSU and in society is valued and here to stay. 

Student performers on stage at the 49th Black Power Rally in the Wharton Center.
Not only is the rally an arena to spread consciousness, it’s a celebration of Blackness. As stated on the BSA’s website, “When Stokely Carmichael coined the term Black Power, it was used as a force to empower and unify Black [people] while creating a strong racial identity.” Over the years, Black figures from across the country have participated in the event, including Dick Gregory, Sister Souljah, Dead Prez and Jeff Johnson. 

This year’s keynote speaker is author, activist and founder of the Trayvon Martin Foundation, Sybrina Fulton. As stated in her bio, “Fulton dedicates her life to transforming family tragedy into social change.” 

Fulton became an inspiring spokesperson for parents, social justice activists and concerned citizens across the country since the murder of her 17-year-old son, Trayvon Martin, in 2012.   

McDaniel shares his excitement for this year’s keynote, saying, “We are bringing an advocate for the unheard voices; we want to inspire hope and call for change within our community, which Fulton exemplifies by explaining how change is constant within our society.” 
For McDaniel, the rally has evolved yearly to prepare the Black student body with themes from the “BlackPrint” to “Welcome to the Cookout” to “When We See Us,” reflecting the climate of the campus.
Being the “BlackPrint” means taking on a particular sense of responsibility and agency to support the community. McDaniel’s said, “The legacy of this BPR continues and keeps in mind our predecessors, because we would not be able to do this without them.” 
This article was originally published on the Student Life and Engagement website. To attend the Black Power Rally, register on the RSVP form

By: Casey Bye

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