Black Essence Festival returns to campus

Black Student Union and Trinity Diversity Connection host second-annual Black Essence Festival

On Saturday, Feb. 24, the Coates Esplanade was filled with live music, games and food from San Antonio area Black vendors to celebrate Black culture. The second annual Black Essence Festival was sponsored by the Black Student Union (BSU) and Trinity Diversity Connection (TDC).

Jasmine Janeé Mitchell-Williams, junior urban studies major, TDC collaborations chair and vice president of BSU, emphasized the importance of engaging with Black culture during the festival.

“We wanted to find a way to celebrate Black history and make it so people could interact with our culture,” Mitchell-Williams said. “We believe that Black essence is for you to also participate in it, not just learn about. You should interact with it, you should feel it and see what it’s like to be in the crowd, and enjoy it.”

The esplanade transformed into a dance floor as students danced to the “Cupid Shuffle” and “Wobble.” There was also a selection of foods from local Black vendors, including collard greens, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, red beans and rice, cornbread and peach cobbler.

The event featured the musical stylings of DevSoul Band and dance routines from Art Noir production company, as well as a poetry recitation from San Antonio high school student SaNaya Crockett about police brutality.

Devon Matthews, the lead singer of DevSoul Band, emphasized the importance of diversity at Black Essence Festival and encouraged students to talk to strangers

“Look around, say hi to people you don’t talk to. … I don’t care what your background is, if y’all ever need someone to perform for you, just let me know,” Matthews said.

The band’s performance included renditions of “Killing Me Softly With His Song” by the Fugees and Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” that had the audience singing and dancing along. Levolea Wallace, sophomore sociology major, said she enjoyed the Black Essence Festival.

“The event was really beautiful,” Wallace said. “The event is really about Black pride. We just wanted to show that we can have fun and show that we have a space here as well. That’s all it really is, it’s just family.”

The event was planned entirely by students, with help from Demi Brown, dean of students, and TDC. TDC and BSU have been working on this year’s Black Essence Festival celebration since last year.

Mitchell-Williams believes that, with more support from other areas on campus, Black Essence Festival could be even bigger.

“We need more support if we’re going to be inviting the whole campus,” Mitchell-Williams said. “We need the whole campus’ help to pay for performances, food and supplies. If even more higher-ups and Trinity staff could help support us, we can make Black Essence Festival bigger and better.”

Taylor Black, senior sociology major and president of BSU, emphasized the meaning of the Black Essence Festival has for the Trinity community.

“It represented Trinity coming alive with the community side of San Antonio cause Trinity can be in its bubble at times, so I feel like bringing the Black San Antonio community on campus shows that there are people out there that look like us,” Black said.