Students at Morris Jeff Community School in New Orleans got a special treat for this year's Black History Poetry Night. Parlay Founder and 2x National Spoken Word Winner (NBC), Reaux Fareal, was among the special guests invited to judge the young artists.
"I typically don't like judging Spoken Word competitions because I believe art is the expression of the artist. I don't think we have the right to judge someone else's thoughts and feelings," said Reaux Fareal. "However, I chose to do this event after I learned it was an assignment to help students develop stage presence, articulation, eye contact, and voice projection. These are important elements of Spoken Word and it's good when these skills are developed at a young age," added Reaux, who has been speaking publicly since he was 10 years old.
Each year MJCS holds a Black History event challenging the students to express Black Culture through poetry. This year's theme was "My Black Is Beautiful." Reaux Fareal expressed his respect for the school's diversity. "I was so impressed with how many non-Black students participated and were excited to support Black Culture. I mean... it aint easy for a white girl to write and authentically deliver a poem about 'her black being beautiful'... especially when you're NOT Black," he laughed in total amazement.
He was referring to Rowan Bergeron, a young 6th Grader who won the My Black Is Beautiful poetry contest. "Why do we keep judging people for being who they are? It really shouldn't matter what race you are or what sexuality you proclaim or what social group you gravitate to. We should be able to live our lives in Peace," said Rowan.
"Rowan was awesome. I didn't see her coming. She owned the words and owned the crowd. I knew when she finished, unless Sunni Patterson walked in the room, Rowan would be hard to beat. She was THAT good!"
This is the fifth consecutive year the school has hosted this event, organized by Art Director, Terersa Anasagasti. Not only did the students participate, but the staff did as well. "These events give our poets and visual artists an opportunity to measure their growth and exhibit their work to the community. We have a great group of kids here and they all did so well tonight. I am proud of them," said Anasagasti.
Other judges included members of the Nola Arts Krewe: Pamela Jones and Ms. Melancholy, Meterologist Damon Williams (WDSU), local rapper Hostyle DaGodchild, Business Owner and HBCU Grad Eric June, and Comedian Jeff D.