Open Mic: Spoken word and Musical Expression

Photo Courtesy of

Paris Cross

Poetry, art, and music are nothing new to Black culture and dates back to many centuries before us. From oral traditions to poetic verses, our words, our message, our stories, have survived generations and continue to inspire those today. In Ancient Africa oral historians called griots possessed the ability to spread oral tradition from generation to generation. Griots passed down stories and song through word of mouth. Music and spoken word played a role in communicating from one person to the next and still does. It’s important to look to the root of Ancient African society in order to understand how important the arts are in the Black community, being that many of these traditions were brought to the Western world from the Atlantic slave trade.

This Black History Month, UNO’s Multicultural Affairs office sponsored the third Open Mic event at the Thompson Center on the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus. It was an event that featured individuality, soul and truth. This event allowed those from different backgrounds and various cultures to come together and share a piece of themselves. It takes a lot for someone to open up in front of a group of strangers and give them a look into their most vulnerable, sacred, inner most thoughts.

Artists, poets and musicians understand what it is like to open up and share something that they hold most dear. That being said, the audience gave off great vibes that fed each participant’s performance. The atmosphere was welcoming and filled with creativity. It gave way for others to stand up in front and share their words. There wasn’t competition, but more so celebration. It was a celebration of each other and provided an opportunity for expression through poetry and music.

Taricka Fairgood, Assistant Director of Multicultural Programs and Outreach Multicultural Affairs, described the event as “powerful, because it’s more than just a performance, it’s a movement. A movement that allows individuals to express themselves which brings out the deepest and purest emotions. It has the power to boost confidence, brighten someone’s day, and release the passion that lies within those performing their individual pieces.”

“The turnout was phenomenal,” she said, “we’ve had this event for two years, each year it gets bigger and bigger. During the course of the event we have to bring out more and more chairs for the audience. It has become one of our signature events. If nothing else, it definitely brings out the crowd. A very diverse crowd. That’s what we appreciate most about the event.”

One thing that was mentioned more than once was that open mics and talent in our community is not just featured during Black History Month. But every day and all the time here in our city and across the world. Being a part of this event was a wonderful experience and gave me a feeling of relief to be able to express myself to such an amazing, diverse crowd.