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Black Knowledge Bowl entertains, informs at the end of Black History Month


A place card for Black History Month sits Feb. 28 in Franklin Hall. Izzy Myszak

Students delved into black history at IU and in general as they answered questions, debated answers and discussed opinions Thursday during the Black Knowledge Bowl at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.

The Black Knowledge Bowl is an annual event organized by the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center toward the end of Black History Month. This marked the last official event from the center for Black History Month. 

“It’s all about black people and black culture is all about the arts and music, so we incorporated all those things that we thought was important,” said Gloria Howell, associate director of Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.

Senior Johnnie Allen Jr. and doctoral student Tislam Swift hosted the event. The game’s categories included: Things Black People Say, Black IU, Black Music, Recently Departed Ancestors, Blackity Black Black and Black Cinema. 

“It started in the late 1980s, and Dr. Portia Maultsby, who was also founder of the IU Soul Revue, was instrumental in getting it started,” Howell said. “We’ve had a lot of losses in our community this year, so we wanted to honor those folks as well with the recently departed section.”

Questions delved deep into black IU history. Competitors were asked about the second black student body president and the first black IU football player to be drafted into the NFL. These questions gave students an opportunity to learn more about the informal black history of IU. 

“Students are experiencing and engaging in history every time they walk through this building,” Howell said. “For all the black IU questions we asked, we have photos that represent those people on our walls.”

Teams representing the Black Student Union, African Students Association, the IU chapter of NAACP, National Pan-Hellenic Council, Black Collegians and audience members not part of a team all competed.

“It was a good way for all the girls in Black Collegians to get to know each other since we are going to be on executive board together,” junior Naudia Thompson said.

The event brought laughter, debate and recollection from audience members and participants alike with some of the questions seeming to require deep reaches into participants' memory banks. 

“My favorite category was Blackity Black because it was more experience than knowledge,” Thompson said. “When you were a kid everybody's mom told them they smelled like outside. That’s an experience, and I think that’s funny.”

As contestants pondered questions, the "Jeopardy!" theme song played. Students decided to remix it and hit tables in lunch-room table style beats to the classic theme song. 

“I liked the sense of community,” said Salina Tesfagiorgis, junior and vice president of the African Students Association. “You never see all of these orgs together in one space, and I really enjoyed that.”  

The IU chapter of the NAACP won the event, to the dismay of their competitors and cheers from the audience.

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