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Spoken Word Speaks Out

As part of the Martin Luther King Jr. celebratory week, this past Sunday Rollins hosted a spoken word event in his honor. Spoken word is a national poetry movement that is similar to slam poetry, but more geared toward issues. Meghan Thomas ‘11, part of the MLK committee, organized the event. She first came across spoken word at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity and was inspired to bring it to campus as a good way to address issues not usually brought up. “Spoken word is all about expressing yourself across cultures,” she said.

Spoken word can be about absolutely anything, but this event kept with this year’s MLK theme of “What Would MLK Do?” One of the MLK committee’s goals for this weekend was to help further connect Rollins with the nearby community, and actually the majority of performers were non-Rollins students. The performers were also a diverse group made up of a range of ages, races and personalities.

Shawn Welcome, a nationally known poet, headlined the show. He gave a phenomenal performance and has a real craft for poetry. His poems were creative and thought-provoking. I felt like I was watching an actor in a play.

The other acts proved to be great as well, and performed with meaning and passion. They demonstrated that MLK Day is not just about African-Americans, but working on justice for all. Topics ranged from Christianity, gay marriage rights, feminism, multiculturalism and more.

Curtis Meyer was another featured performer. This is his third year coming to Rollins for spoken word and for him it has been “a blast every time. Rollins has been really good to me.” As a child of an interracial couple, Meyer feels strongly about MLK day and civil rights. “It’s crazy to think the civil rights movement was only a generation ago. I sometimes fear we forget the weight of those events and how recent they were. Just because we have a black president does not mean we ended racism.”

Watching his performance was entertaining and he gets really into character, talking about issues such as homosexuality and our dependency on technology. He even compared the iPad to a vibrator, one of the more memorable comments of the evening. He describes spoken word as “a manifestation of the First Amendment. I can speak whatever is on my mind. You can’t do that everywhere in the world.”

In addition to spoken word, the event included musical entertainment, with performances by recording artist Xavier O’Conner from Atlanta, Ga., and Rollins’ own Aaron Childree ’11. Childree performed “I See the Lights,” a song inspired by great leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr.

Before this event, I had never heard of spoken word before, but I am truly glad that I found out. It is a great way to express oneself and connect with others.

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