A big community on a small stage

Sherrie Bradford delivered an original poem about the struggles and successes that she and her family faced, which led many people in the crowd to stand and cheer while wiping tears from their faces.

Bradford was one of many that performed Thursday, April 12, during UMOJA’s first open mic. The event was a outlet for different types of expression including musical performance, poetry readings, dance performances, artwork displays and food submissions.

Editor-in-Chief Katie Elliot of literary magazine Directions was excited to witness people on campus bold enough to be on stage to share their stories.

“[The open mic night] is just such a vulnerable place and a place where rough drafts are okay and where messing up is okay,” Elliot said.

UMOJA counselor Melody Smith said all of the 13 participants did great and she appreciated their bravery in getting up on stage and was excited to see everyone encourage the performers.

“I felt like the community was really there and there was a lot of support in the audience for the students going up,” Smith said.

Smith said that part of what UMOJA is doing with events like this is reaching out and finding different ways to get involved on campus.

Smith said that the open mic night created an opportunity for students to have an outlet to express themselves creatively.

Pierce’s literary magazine Directions joined in collaboration with the event and presented a confession booth where students wrote down and submitted anonymous submissions.

Elliot said she created the confession booth to catch the students that wanted to express themselves but did not feel confident enough to go onstage.

Elliot said she wants to see events like this grow. She said the performances portrayed struggles and triumph as she was proud to see her peers stand up and be vulnerable sharing their stories.

“I think college students are so expected to have it together and we just don’t sometimes. We are expected to be adults but we still feel like children and this was a place to be exactly that – to be a child in an adult role and express the challenges of that or different experiences,” Elliot said.

Student Ruth Murillo sang a piece called “Sabor a Mi” (A Taste of You). She was originally supposed to be accompanied by a friend but ended up doing the performance alone.

This was Murillo’s first open mic performance but she has sang many times at her church.

Murillo said she felt empowered and inspired by the performers and hopes to participate in more events like this in the future.

The performance that stood out the most to Murillo was Sherrie Bradford reciting an original poem over music and she shared many personal experiences.

Bradford pointed out all the people in her life and on campus that showed her support and became a part of her family.

Faith Amoussou said it was great to see all the creativity in the room and was excited to perform, support and encourage her peers.

Amoussou said, “I felt really comfortable performing. It feels like a community and I am happy to be a part of it.”