AASU Renaissance spotlights Black artists

Jayla Sparks, 2nd-year ME, performs at the 2021 Black Georgia Tech Renaissance. The 2022 event, happening this Friday, is intended to spotlight Black creativity in the Tech community. // Photo courtesy of African American Student Union

Art has the unique ability to inspire, educate and stimulate change. 

During this Black History Month, Georgia Tech’s African American Student Union (AASU) in collaboration with the Georgia Tech Black Alumni Organization and the Impact Living Learning Community will be presenting “Black Georgia Tech Renaissance: A Celebration of Art and Culture.” 

According to the AASU’s website, “this will be a showcase of not only Black history and culture but also talents and abilities of students and alumni.”

This event, which takes place from Feb. 25 through the 26th, kicks off with an exhibit and showcase on Friday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Ferst Center for the Arts. It will be held in person while following CDC COVID-19 guidelines. 

On Saturday afternoon, there will be screening along with a panel discussion and a meet and greet. More information on both events and a QR code to register can be found on the Tech AASU’s website or Instagram. A renaissance refers to a revival of or renewed interest in something and the Black Georgia Tech Renaissance, and the AASU “aim to embrace, highlight and celebrate 60 years of Black students at Georgia Tech.” 

Lauren Hester, a second-year PSYC major, is the Black History Month co-chair for the AASU. 

“The AASU’s goals are to provide a safe space for students of color, not only to socialize but also be exposed to professional opportunities and a chance to just interact with other students that look like them,” she said.

The Black Georgia Tech Renaissance is a continuation of an event that Hester started last year. 

While she is currently AASU’s Black History Month co-chair, Hester was also a member of the Impact Living Learning Community and this is where the idea for the festival formed.

Hester, who has a passion for performing arts, thought that there should be an opportunity for Black students to present their talents during Black History Month. She wanted this to be an annual event and got her to start with creating the Impact Showcase. 

This year, the partnership with AASU, Georgia Tech Black Alumni Organization and the Impact Living-Learning Community formed to present the event which includes not only students but also alumni participants. 

While Tech is a STEM focused institution, Hester wants to highlight the talents that students and alumni have outside of academics. 

That is why she believes events like the Black Georgia Tech Renaissance are necessary on campus.

“We’re more than just engineers, we’re more than just scientists. We also have talents,” Hester said. “I just felt like there needed to be a place for us to express that as well, because there are many student artists and performers, and people that have other passions.”

As for what to expect at the event, Hester did not want to give too much away but she mentioned that attendees can look forward to seeing various aspects of Black and African American culture, expressed in different ways.  From rapping and singing, spoken word and even a florist art presentation, the Black Georgia Tech Renaissance is sure to be an exciting weekend event filled with talent and creativity.