Marist Celebrates "Night at the Apollo"

Peyton Euriah ‘20 stood beside her wooden easel, earbuds in and eyes glued to her canvas. “I’m painting my best friend Lyric, who’s from LA. She just represents this earthy, typical — but still bomb — 90s girl,” Euriah said. “I’m going to do a little graffiti tag of her name next to it. It represents the streets of South Central — that’s where we’re from.”

Euriah stood on the side of the stage in the Cabaret, live painting a portrait that was very close to her heart. This was just one piece of artistic expression at the “Night at the Apollo,” A.R.C.O/BSU event hosted on Wednesday, Feb. 27. The event featured songs, poems, anecdotes and art — with students sharing their reflections on their life and experiences.

“I was shaking the entire time,” said Euriah, fiddling with her paintbrush. “If it makes other people smile than why not? It’s not all about me — the art is not all about me at the end of the day.”

Appreciating Races and Creating Opportunities (A.R.C.O.) and Black Student Union (BSU) created this event in honor of the “Night at the Apollo,” that debuted in 1934 in New York City.

Hasion Malik ‘20, President of Marist BSU, connected with the BSU groups at SUNY New Paltz and Vassar College and invited their students to perform. He said this was the event’s biggest turnout that he’s seen in his time at Marist thus far.

Students celebrate Marist A.R.C.O/BSU “Night at the Apollo” event. Photo courtesy of BSU.

Students celebrate Marist A.R.C.O/BSU “Night at the Apollo” event. Photo courtesy of BSU.

“It was an idea that I thought of during the planning process — trying to connect with the local Black Student Unions in the Mid-Hudson Valley while just creating a friendship that lasts beyond my presidency and their administration,” Malik said.

The original “Night at the Apollo” in Harlem served as a starting point for many artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, James Brown and Lauryn Hill. It “continues to maintain its position as the nation's most popular arena for emerging and established African-American and Latino performers,” according to the theater’s website.

Marist A.R.C.O. and BSU sought out a similar mission — to bring students together to share their stories through artistic expression.

“Everyone is truly listening and soaking in the words that people speak, the pain that they let go in their verses and the honesty they pour out to the audience,” said Marika Cygert ‘20, President of A.R.C.O. “It’s truly a time for understanding, appreciation and love.”

“The Apollo stands for African-Americans finding their place, being able to share their talents with others and being accepted,” Cygert said. “Although we are still struggling with racism, discrimination and a very tense political and social atmosphere in our society, I think ‘Night at the Apollo’ is a place where everyone can let that go, speak their mind in wholehearted honesty, without judgment.”

Marist A.R.C.O. and BSU can be contacted on Instagram at @marist_bsu and @maristarco. “If you have interest, follow it — BSU is welcoming to everyone. You don’t have to be black, it’s an inclusive space for all,” Malik said.

Tara GuaimanoComment