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Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts Council Hosts ‘Pay It Forward’ Celebration

The Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts Council hosted its second annual celebration recognizing the life and legacy of the late Chadwick A. Boseman.

The dance theater program takes fills the aisles during their performance. (Photo courtesy of The College of Fine Arts Council)

Students and staff of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts and neighboring schools gathered at the Ira Aldridge Theatre to celebrate the late Chadwick A. Boseman. 

Last Monday, attendees entered the theater to upbeat R&B classics and hits spun by DJ K. Dimes. Adorned in all white to celebrate the beloved alum of the school, the theme of this year’s celebration was “Pay it Forward.” 

After settling in, audiences were greeted by Phylicia Rashsad and Denise Saunders Thompson, the dean and assistant dean of the School of Fine Arts, respectively, who led the theater in a moment of silence. 

“He came here in search of knowledge and development,” Rashad told the audience while reminiscing on her time teaching Boseman in the early 2000s. “I look at you and I remember him,” she told attendees. 

The second annual celebration was put in place by the College of Fine Arts Council last year, stating that each year on Aug. 28, the campus would recognize and celebrate the contributions, achievements and values of the late Chadwick A. Boseman.  

Mariah Belle, a senior musical theater major and one of two the College of Fine Arts Council senators, emphasizes the importance of not only having the programming but also making it into legislation for the student body.  

“It was really big for us to not only continue the tradition from last year but set an example for future classes about what this day is and what this day can be so that they continue to hold this programming during their time there and inspire other students to hold the programming when they arrive on Howard campus,” Belle said. 

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“This is a day of celebration, not just something that was just going to be a day, they [senators] put it into law and into practice and it is becoming a part of Howard’s fabric,” said a junior musical theater major, Joseph Griffin, who was an attendee of the celebration.

The atmosphere was vibrant, which was particularly influenced by the close-knit community of the College of Fine Arts students and staff.

“The atmosphere was a very black celebration, black love, it was not about grief, it was only celebration,” Griffin said. “I was actually a little worried about that [grief] going in, I thought it might be depressing, but it all felt so inspiring and so uplighting and familiar,” he said.

The remainder of the night was primarily hosted by the Mr. and Mrs. College of Fine Arts who rallied the energy in the room before introducing the Beacon Dance Ministry, who performed the song “Victory” by Tye Tribbett. 

Nikkole Salter, chair of the theater arts department and peer of Chadwick A. Boseman, shared some words painting the picture of the time when she, Boseman, and others attended Howard. 

“He took it upon himself to unite his own artistic voice with the practices he was learning here,” Salter said to audiences. 

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Salter then prompted audiences to reflect on the significance of Boseman’s full name, Chadwick Aaron Boseman, meaning protector or defender, motions of strength, audacity, and daring. 

“What is your name, what will you call yourself and what will you have us call you,” Salter finished.

Following this moment, senior painting major Lamiya Murray and junior interactive media and animation major Jaylon Corley shared visual artwork under the theme of “paying it forward.” Afterward, the dance theater program lit up the theater with a dynamic routine to a mix of songs. 

In order to further personalize the message of paying it forward, which was emphasized throughout the night, the inaugural Chadwick A. Boseman Scholar, Shawn Smith. impressed with a dramatic monologue, garnering roaring applause from his peers and administrators. 

Shawn Smith performs a dramatic monoluge. (Photo Courteys of The College of Fine Arts Council)

After a word from the president and vice president of the College of Fine Arts Council and junior acting majors Julius Shanks and Destiny Jennings, African drummers were introduced and awed all with the sounds of the culture. It gave way to more celebratory practices and another opportunity to connect with one another through music and motion. 

“I think it is really important to remember that there is a historic tradition between the African diasporic community to celebrate and come together and commune with song and dance and rhythm and artwork and storytelling and things like that. So for me, the College of Fine Arts reminds the entire campus community how important that is” Belle said when asked about the importance of various elements of the programming, 

Even the brief intermission was a spectacle, as students flooded the aisles of Ira Aldridge theater, assembling around one another to dance, a moment that inspired a stark statement from Rashad.

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“What you carry within you is most amazing,” she said as she took the stage for some closing words. “Unrehearsed. Need no invitation. Just here… You are a testimony to the power of intention,” she said as the programming drew to a close. 

The night ended with the Howard University Gospel choir taking the stage for two songs, one being the black national anthem, ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing.’ 

Copy edited by Alana Matthew


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