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The 2018 Black Lives Matter Summit gives #wakandaforever a whole new meaning by inviting their audience to a day full of panel discussions, indicating just how significant this catchphrase has become amongst the Black Lives Matter organization and inspiring its theme of “Black Power: Reconsidered.”

LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC)  hosted the 4th annual Black Lives Matter Summit on May 18th in the Little Theatre. The crowd of students, faculty and staff waited anxiously in the Skylight room while loud sounds from the theatre boomed from the opening doors. A slideshow of the organization’s protests was on display, featuring activists wearing t-shirts with the hashtag “stay woke” while being handled by white policemen, as well as, pictures of the bevy of  black lives who were taken as a result of police brutality.

To pep up the gloomy morning crowd of over 60 people, the event coordinator and Director of Campus Recreation Jerell Robinson brought his joyful energy onto the stage as he greeted the audience. He explained the meaning of the theme, “Black Power: Reconsidered”, inspired by the book, Leadership Reconsidered by Ruth Tucker, “Black power reconsidered is about LaGuardia Community College addressing the application of self-efficacy, self-empowerment, and self-love to often times invisible bodies.”

Following Mr. Robinson’s introductory speech, Dr. Robert R. Walton, LAGCC’s Ombudsman and emcee of the event, brought his own colorful energy to the stage. In honor of the event, he asked the audience to get up and walk over to as many people as possible and recite to each other “we are in this together.” After everyone was seated, he went on to say “I was reading something the other day, something that ‘Fooliani’… I mean [Rudy] Giuliani, had said in reference to Black Lives Matter. He said that ‘Black Lives Matter is a movement that’s not America.’ Well, Mr. Giuliani, I’d like to ask you a question… ‘What is American?’ The fact that we have to remind America that Black Lives matter, is the problem.”

Dr. Walton then cleared the stage for a dance performance by the Educated Performers in College (EPIC) group. Eight women, dressed in all black wearing traditional African headwear with arm and leg ties, emerge from each side of the stage and begin their dance to “Phenomenal Woman,” written by the late Maya Angelou.

Shawn Best, the Interim Director of the Black Male Initiative at the City University of New York, a program developed to improve the lives of men of color, discusses the limited opportunities given to students of color, “opportunity is biased, opportunity is segregated.”

While the theme of the event was “Black Power: Reconsidered”, the topic of immigration stole the limelight, especially during a panel discussion on “The African Diaspora and its Impact on Immigration” with fellow panelists Dr. Walton, Kemah George, Christelle Onwu, and Ryan Mann-Hamilton. Ms. George explained,

To me, immigration is a story of my family and it expands in many generations and makes me very, very proud to say that I am a child of immigrants.

Continuing on with the event, the crowd broke away, joining three separate panel discussions, all based on the feature film, Black Panther. One, in particular, was “Shattering Expectations: ‘Black Panther,’ Cinema, and Representations of Blackness.” Professor Allia Abdullah-Matta justified Killmonger’s character (played by Michael B. Jordan) by explaining that he is just a result of his environment. “Killmonger represents all of the awfulness of slavery, of war… this character is a depiction of all of America’s evilness.” She later added, “He’s so in the moment with African immigration tension, which is very real.”

Though the topic of immigration may have been the highlight of the talk based on the current political climate, the theme “Black Power: Reconsidered” is shown to be one that is finally being reconsidered and evolving as the world begins to shed light on the positives of black culture seen in feature films like Black Panther.