Black Culture & Fine Arts

On Friday night, students walking through the Cohon Center were immediately struck with vibrant live jazz music and posters of significant pieces of art by African and African-American artists. While Arnelle Etienne, a research associate in electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, was gracefully singing, members of SPIRIT were hanging up posters that showcased noteworthy pieces of fine arts, architecture, and entertainment from the black community.

This event, which was held by SPIRIT, commemorated the end of this Black History Month with a celebration of some of the great contributions that African and African-American people have made to creative fields today.
“I think it’s important to show the arts and crafts that African-Americans have contributed to the world and [how] their arts integrate with everyday society,” said Anfernee Williams, an attendee at the event.

This event was created to highlight all aspects of African-American art and culture, but the most prominent facet was music. From popular genres like rap and hip-hop to soulful blues, black music has always had a meaningful impact on American culture.

“My parents raised me on a lot of old music and showed me the importance of knowing your history when it comes to events surrounding the music and music, itself,” Etienne said. “For any genre that is American music, you could probably point [back] to a black genre.”

Although African and African-American music has acted as a framework on which other genres and music today can build off, black culture is so much more than just its music.

“Black culture is one of the richest cultures in the world,” Nana Anokye, a first-year attendee of the event, said. “We are so diverse, and there are so many aspects. It is just loving and inclusive, and it has a lot of important history. It is exciting.”