On Thursday, Feb. 20, Kean University's Poetry Club, along with Iota Phi Theta Fraternity and the Pan-African Student Union, hosted the Love Jones Open Mic in the Cougar's Den from 7 to 9 p.m.
The event was poised to honor the way that African American art paved the way for today's culture, through various musical genres such as jazz, rock, country and hip-hop, in addition to social movements such as the Black Artist Movement.
The room was filled with students eager to showcase their artistic talents by signing up to partake in the interactive open mic, which included performances from the Poetry Club and other students.
Attendees were free to mingle with their friends and others between the acts, as timeless hits were played from a playlist specifically curated for the event.
After the open mic portion concluded, contestants partook in a game: they were asked what they would do on a date and how they would handle potential dilemmas that came up. They were given gift bags afterwards.
"The event was called 'Love Jones' because I simply came up with the idea while watching a movie of the same title," said Rahkim Fleetwood, creative board member of the Kean Poetry Club.
Fleetwood went into detail about the film he saw and the inspiration that it provided for the open mic.
"'Love Jones' is a black romance film which came out in the nineties. I [liked] the ambiance of it, which I wanted to capture in the event," he continued. "It's a relaxed atmosphere. People come and socialize, get their poetry out and have the opportunity to hear other artists as well."
When asked about the impact this event will have on the Kean community, Fleetwood expressed excitement that it would be a positive way to get other creatives to come out and share their artistic gifts and to spread love.
"As a black student on campus, no one is going to represent us if we don't do it," Fleetwood mentioned. "A lot of times, when we're portrayed in the media, it's never about love. [We] don't hear too many romance stories about ourselves."
Fleetwood believes in the importance of shifting the narratives of others pertaining to love.
"I want to take time to do that, so we can have fun and impact the community as a whole. Then instead of thinking about partying, someone will go home and consider being in love," he continued.
The Poetry Club consists of poets, emcees, singers, musicians and artists aspiring to use their voices to make a difference and express their appreciation for creativity.
A safe space is provided for these artists to express themselves freely without judgement, while making connections in the process. For more information about the club, their page can be found on Cougar Link.
They can also be contacted via email at email@example.com.