Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Second-annual Bridges event celebrates Black hair

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story misstated assistant professor Joseph Jefferson's title, the story has been updated to reflect the correct title.

On March 1, the Holland College of Arts and Media Diversity Committee presented its second annual Bridges Showcase. The showcase merges Black History Month and Women’s History Month, focusing on the topic of Black hair.

Assistant professor of trombone and director of jazz studies Joseph Jefferson spoke about the meaning of Black hair to him.

“It speaks to individuality, creativity, independence and strength. It's a topic that could serve a different meaning for different people,” Jefferson said.

The event consisted of a variety of performances in the form of music, dance and spoken word. One of the performances, a song titled “Dear Little Black Boy/Girl,” was written and performed by musical theater senior Anthony Shepard and Southeast student Mahala Pittman. Shepard spoke on what being a part of the committee means to him.

“What it means to me as a senior is laying a secure foundation. That we could have the community support necessary for real equity and diversity,” Shepard said. “I think there's no point in bringing diverse populations to SEMO if they don't feel supported.”

“Bridges” featured a quilt made by people involved with the committee. In the eyes of Ceramics Professor Benjie Heu, the quilt was a way to bring more people together.

“It was a way for many hands to come together for what usually would be an overwhelming task, but they transformed into this larger piece,” Heu said.

The Art Department and other students involved with the committee designed the visual direction for the event.

“Our part of the committee came up with resource materials. So, we had got together with two African American artists over Zoom, and they talked specifically about their experiences with Black hair,” said Nancy Palmeri, Department Chair of Art and Design. “After talking amongst each other and faculty, we could then launch the creative aspect of the project.”

For more about Black History Month and Black hair, read about poet Jahman Hill’s reading that took place in February.