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Thursday, May 23
The Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices

Black Voices: Black Student Union hosted a speakeasy night in light of Harlem Renaissance


On Feb. 15, the IU Black Student Union (BSU) hosted a speakeasy night to commemorate the Harlem Renaissance in Gresham’s Hoosier Den. Card games, basketball rims and a football game created a festive event. 

The Harlem Renaissance was the development of the African American culture in Harlem, NY from the 1910s to 1930s. It was the golden age for African American culture which resulted in the creation of many influential music, art, and literature.  

IU sophomore Talayeh Marshall, who serves on BSU’s executive board as the freshman action team advisor, said she was excited to learn various traditional Black household games such as spades, Uno and Dominoes.  

“I think a big thing for us as far as this event goes is just to highlight important parts of Black culture and just basically find fellowship with other Black people,” Marshall said. “And to continue to build community.” 

According to their beInvolved page, BSU’s goal is to “improve the quality of life for Black students on the Indiana University-Bloomington campus by representing their interest before the greater IU community.” They raise awareness of these interests through educational and social programs and by connecting students with other organizations.  

As part of the planning committee, Marshall helped see the BSU’s goal through for this event.

“I love working with my executive board and creating ideas and figuring out how we are going to execute events,” she said. 

IU junior Nyla Rayford serves as the BSU’s co-collaboration chair. While playing a game of Uno with a group of friends, Rayford said she had fun planning the event with Marshall and looked forward to learning more about the Harlem Renaissance.  

“I thought the speakeasy would be good because it goes with the whole theme,” Rayford said. “Speakeasies are more like when they did lots of gambling, so I was like let’s do like a game night, karaoke and just be a vibe.” 

Speakeasies’ main purpose during the Harlem Renaissance was to create a place for jazz musicians to get their chance in the spotlight. Jazz musicians like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Adelaide Hall all got their starts in speakeasy jazz clubs.  

IU junior Charleigh Carter who serves as BSU’s vice president, said the event was more fun than she imagined. 

“It was really fun being able to learn how to play spades, because I wanted to learn for a long time, and I just never really wanted to take the chance to learn the card game,” Carter said.  

The Harlem Renaissance was a stepping stone for the African American culture after the Civil War. Many of the African American population migrated to the northern big cities such as New York, Chicago and Philadelphia to find a better life for themselves and their families.  

Although the attendance was low that night, it was still a good event to remember an important historic time in Black culture. 

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