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Poetry club participates at Auburn conference

December 5, 2013

By Tara Harris

The Cleveland State Speak Up poetry club attended the 23rd annual Association for Black Cultural Centers conference (ABCC) at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. Members of the Speak Up organization provided information.

The conference provides the opportunity for all of the cultural centers across the country to come together for workshops and seminars.

This year Speak Up was requested as the entertainment for the event. They had the chance to showcase their talents to colleges nationwide.

The conference included activities and workshops. There was a moment when an instrumental was played and the audience wrote their thoughts and feelings about the day. Also, an open mic portion where attendees were welcomed to recite poetry.
There was also a poetry slam including all the cultural centers but no one could beat Cleveland State’s own Speak Up poets.

The conference allowed them the chance to network with prominent people and form connections with other universities.

The special guest for the conference was journalist and author of “In My Place,” Charlayne Hunter, who was one of the first African- American students to attend the University of Georgia.

“It was great. The chance to meet the movers and shakers was inspirational,” said Dwayne Castleberry, Speak Up president.

They received compliments and met great people from all over and formed a bond with Purdue, Stanford, Ohio State University and others. Ohio State asked Speak Up to participate in the black heritage festival that Ohio State has every year.
Getting to the conference was a bit of a challenge.

Speak Up had begun their registration paperwork in July but were still pending as an organization with Student Life. Members had to pay out of their pockets to fund this trip.
Jake Streeter, Cleveland state alum and first student to ever major in black studies, also helped fund the trip.

Lambda Phi Theta collaborated with Speak Up to help and Dr. Michael Williams provided some funds as well. They are waiting to be reimbursed by the Student Government Association.

The benefits of attending the conference outweighed the challenges. However, Jeannise Andres, founder of Speak Up and advisory board member, thinks student should not be discouraged from attending beneficial seminars.

“Students should be encouraged and supported by Cleveland State to attend conferences when those students are trying to represent their university and become engaged throughout the community.”

Speak Up organization continues to make appearances in the community and periodically host poetry readings at Noble Elementary school.

Speak Up gives a voice to the younger generation and allows students to become interested in reading,” said Takaya Williamson, Speak Up treasurer.

“We can possibly encourage them to attend college,” said Castleberry.
Speak Up will have their final poetry slam of the year.

The topic of the event is Words of Wisdom and special guests are expected. Poetry is a freedom of expression art form but Castleberry offers some advice.

“Be mindful of your audience and tailor content if necessary,” said Castleberry.
The event will be held Friday Dec.6 at 7pm in the Main Classroom 137.