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Friday, February 23, 2024 — Houston, TX

Soul Night highlights Black culture and community

Katherine Hui / Thresher

By Shreya Challa     2/21/23 10:37pm

Rice Black Student Association’s Soul Week culminates in Soul Night on Feb. 25 at the Rice Memorial Center’s Grand Hall. Soul Night is a cultural showcase dedicated to Black talent and art, and this year’s theme is The Blackprint, celebrating Black people’s impact on global culture and history. The show starts at 7 p.m. and is preceded by dinner at 6 p.m. Rice and Houston community members can pre-order tickets for $10 or buy tickets at the door for $15.

Chase Brown, external vice president of the BSA and stage director for Soul Night, said that the theme was decided early last semester, and the board was excited to start work immediately after last year’s Soul Night. 

“I like the trend from last year’s theme of Black Excellence to The Blackprint, highlighting all the amazing things that Black people have done, and also showcasing … how much of that amazing work has been rooted in history and American culture and global culture, how the foundation of society was built on the backs of Black individuals,” Brown, a Wiess College junior, said.

Malaika Bergner, president of the BSA, hopes that the show will leave people with what she says is an important message. 

“The world uses, profits off of and draws inspiration from The Blackprint. Black culture and the African Diaspora have influenced so many cultures around the world and have paved the way for others to be able to create and express themselves in new ways,” Bergner, a Martel College senior, said in an email to the Thresher. “During Black History Month especially, but also all year long, it is important for everybody to recognize that Black culture and so-called ‘Black contributions’ extend far beyond what the eye can see and touch so many different facets of our society.”

Bergner said that she loved seeing the theme come to life. 

“When I first heard it I both wanted to jump for joy and weep, because it just means so much to me as a Black person in this country that my people are understood as creators and global cultural inspirations,” Bergner said.

This year, Soul Night will include outside acts from the greater Houston community. Jazara Nelson, BSA creative director and Soul Night coordinator, said that she looks forward to seeing where Rice meets greater Houston in the context of Black talent. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing … how everything overlaps and blends together to create one beautiful culture,” Nelson, a Wiess junior, wrote in an email to the Thresher.

According to Bergner, Soul Night hopes to highlight Black culture, aesthetics, experiences and creativity in a way that isn’t often seen at Rice. 

“Even though we at Rice are situated right in the middle of a city that is so enriched by its Southern African American history and, beyond that, a city recognized as a Black cultural hub, we do not feel this presence on our own campus as much as we should,” Bergner said.

Nelson expressed a similar sentiment, saying that she loves being immersed in Black culture and that that is exactly what the purpose of Soul Night is. 

“Our event provides an outlet for Black students at Rice to unapologetically voice their individual perspectives while simultaneously celebrating their shared identities,” Nelson said. “Being at a school where Black people make up less than 10% of the population, I think Soul Night is a very much needed event. It is the one event that I look forward to every single year.”

More from The Rice Thresher

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A one-night-only cultural showcase, Soul Night reflects the artistry and creative lexicon of Rice’s Black Student Association. This year’s showcase is award show-themed, combining music, dance, spoken word and fashion in the form of a narrative musical. The show takes place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24 in Hamman Hall. Tickets are $10 and include a pre-show dinner at 5 p.m.

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