University Park, IL,
16:43 PM

A Celebration of Achievements and Contributions

Governors State University will host the 5th annual Black Women Rock celebration on Saturday, February 18, at 6 p.m. in the Center for Performing Arts. The night, a celebration of the achievements and contributions of African-American women in the GSU community, will feature music, dance, and tribute performances by local artists, including the GSU Dance Troupe, Fatal Dance Academy, a tribute to women by Floyd Wilkinson and Keith Briggs, acoustic soul by Oliv Blu, and selections by Carya Holmes.

The hosts this year are Cherish Brown, recent GSU alumna and 2016 recipient of the Arts Award, and Sean Smith, the new Coordinator of the Male Success Initiative. A complete list of award categories and nominees is available here.

Sheree Sanderson, Assistant Dean of Students, will present the Coretta Scott King award. Sanderson said, “Each year, Student Life looks around the university and looks for an African-American woman, particularly a faculty person or a leader on the outside, who embodies the spirit of what Coretta Scott King stood for.” This award, unlike the others, will be a surprise to its recipient.

Other presenters include Dr. Deborah Bordelon, Dr. Phyllis West, Dr. David Hamilton Golland, Jackie Small, Joyce Coleman, Dr. Andrae Marak, University Park Mayor Vivian Covington (2015 recipient of the Coretta Scott King award), Dr. Nicole Koonce, Tiesha Walker, student leaders, and other community members.

Professor Yevette Brown, nominated for the Fine Arts award, said that she was “honored to receive the nomination for Black Women Rock. It’s always a pleasure when you find out that you’re appreciated and respected by faculty, staff, and your students. I thank them for this recognition.”

Career Services Counselor Dartina Dunlap, nominated in the Unsung She-Ro category, said, “I am absolutely ecstatic to receive this nomination. It’s an honor and a privilege just to be nominated, and for that I’m very grateful.”

Sanderson, who has been involved in BWR since its inception at GSU, views the event as an invaluable opportunity for African-American women to reach across color lines and invite others into their experience. Hand in hand with the celebration goes a teaching opportunity.

“The whole concept is about helping others understand our culture and appreciate the things that we do. It’s really not only just us celebrating each other. It’s about embracing and understanding the culture of what black women are able to achieve and how they’ve had to achieve it. It’s a teachable moment,” Sanderson said. “This is the essence of what black history is about, and we have made a conscious effort to reach out and be diverse across campus, so we have people presenting and not all of the people are African-American. We want to be inclusive. We open it up to everybody.”

For 2017, 32 women have been nominated in 14 categories, and the winners will be announced during Saturday’s event. Unlike the Coretta Scott King Award, category nominees are aware of their nominations.

Black Women Rock is a free event and is open to the public.