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TCU students bring historic jazz club experience to campus

Students and members of the TCU NAACP started the first day of Black History Month by taking people back to the 1920s and 1930s.

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Junior communication studies major Raquel McBay performs a song at the TCU NAACP Cotton Club inspired event on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 in the BLUU Auditorium. (TCU 360/Sarah Allen) From left: Gabrielle McBay, Alonzo Thompson, Kee-Kee Jackson, Elizabeth Johnson and Christie Holland perform a 1920s inspired dance TCU NAACP Cotton Club inspired event on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 in the BLUU Auditorium. (TCU 360/Sarah Allen) Freshman Ava Rollins performs a poem at the TCU NAACP Cotton Club inspired event on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 in the BLUU Auditorium. (TCU 360/Sarah Allen) Junior religion major Ronald Manning performs a poem at the TCU NAACP Cotton Club inspired event on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 in the BLUU Auditorium. (TCU 360/Sarah Allen)

Every February people recognize and celebrate Black History. This year, some students in the NAACP believe this month is different because they get to see change in action, once again, with the country's first black president’s four more years in office.

"When I was younger, you were always getting told as a young black male that you're not as good, or you don't receive very many positive images, so my mom or my family would tell me 'You can be anything,'" Austin Alex, a senior sociology major, said. "And now I have the actual visual of literally you can be anything you want to be. When you're a kid you say, 'Oh, I want to be the president of the United States,' but if you don't see anybody that looks like you, it's hard to work toward that."

This year, members of the NAACP wanted to celebrate the success of the Civil Rights Movement and the Harlem Renaissance, including the Cotton Club.

Based in Harlem, New York, the renowned building turned into a jazz night club that originated in the '20s. The club was a white-only establishment, even though a majority of the featured performers were some of the greatest black entertainers in the history of music, including Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday.

Just like the celebration of the historic success of the Cotton Club, this month is a celebration of Obama's accomplishments, Gabrielle McBay, junior food management major and NAACP president, said.

"The evolution from a white's only establishment to now having an African American president really speaks volumes," McBay said. "Our people have definitely transcended over the years."

Guests sat at circular tables and listened to several jazz performances. Students performed songs by famous black entertainers and read poems and lyrics once heard at the Cotton Club decades ago.

Students also got a a little preview of a jazz instrument commonly seen at the club - the trombone. First-year music performance major Tyler McDonald participated in the event by playing music on his trombone. He is an active supporter of the NAACP's mission, McDonald said.

"I think it shows that America's stipulations on what leadership and what stigmatisms come with African Americans has changed completely. And it's really refreshing and it's really inspiring for what the future can hold as far as the diminishing of racism in America," McDonald said.

Students who were too young to vote this year felt the NAACP helped them be part of President Obama's re-election and the progress of black history.

"For me to be part of this change I think it's an impact on me but it's an impact on people that I mentor as well. It's not just me it's a ripple effect to everbydoy who knows me," first-year biology major Quynh Ngo, said.

Just like the success of the Cotton Club, others are enthusiastic about the success of President Obama and what his second term means for them.

"Now it just opens so many avenues and doors for people like me to keep going and take my journey farther into the world and conquer and take it by storm," first-year psychology major Tyler Casteel-Provost said.

The TCU NAACP meets on Mondays at 7 p.m. in the BLUU Chambers.

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