Sereen Evans and Deashanna Lewis were among South High students who maintained a hectic schedule during the school’s annual Black History Month luncheon on Thursday.
Both are accustomed to being busy as both are plenty active on sports teams and members of South’s Black Student Union and the Young Women Empowered for Leadership groups. The money raised from Thursday’s event will go toward trips for the groups as well as for scholarships.
Evans, who plays volleyball and basketball at South, sat at a table where she sold tickets for the luncheon. She later recited the Maya Angelou poem “Phenomenal Woman.”
“It’s a tradition,” Evans said of the BSU-hosted luncheon that began in the 1990s. “We’re able to bring the community together, from outside and for people who are here at South. We kind of bring them together in a fun way with food, music and performances. They get to see some of the things we do here at South. This brings true acknowledgment that this is Black History Month.”
Evans is also the rally commissioner for South’s Associated Student Body.
Lewis, a sprinter for South’s track and field team, sang during the luncheon and also performed with the school’s step team.
She said she was nervous when she first started singing “Stand Up,” by Cynthia Erivo, but she quickly gained confidence and felt comfortable.
“I like that we have an event for us, celebrating our culture and our past, embracing it more,” Lewis said. “I like how it’s giving us a breath of fresh air. That, ‘Wow, we’re being celebrated.’”
The luncheon included fried chicken, collard greens, sweet potatoes and cornbread from Momma Jones Kitchen.
Brian Mendiburu is in his first year as principal at South. He said he heard about the luncheon and knew of its importance at the school and within the community. The event also reunites former staff and alumni, he said.
“I like how special it’s been to the tradition of South High,” Mendiburu said. “It’s tradition to invite our alumni, our boosters, our retirees, our current staff and students to come back and not only celebrate Black History Month but to break bread with people and honor the great music and culture.”
Brent Williams, a community specialist at South, said he was proud of the way the members of the Black Student Union worked together to help with the event. They served food, performed or sold tickets as Evans did.
Williams said the Black History Month luncheon had been on a three-year hiatus due to COVID restrictions, but returned Thursday.
“We wanted to bring the community out,” he said. “It’s a much-needed event.”