‘A Night in Wakanda’ shares African American heritage


Michelle Obama was vividly painted, caressing a newborn black baby. There were little African American boys and girls sculpted in their innocent youth playing with toys surrounding their forever First Lady. The painting tells the viewer that she was and will continue to be a mother to all black children in America.
In the distance, you hear the beautiful sounds of soul music sending a rush of waves to make your body move and dance to the rhythms that originated from black culture. The food served was made by someone who “put their foot in it.” And the poetry lead you through a world of black empowerment and the perception of what it means to be black in America.
Jamie Mayes, an author and educator, hosted the annual “A Night in Wakanda” Friday at the African American Museum in Monroe. The event was focused on the black experience and culture.
There were artifacts, paintings and wax figures of black influencers stationed around the museum. Cornbread, black-eyed peas, collard greens and chicken was served while the DJ played classical R&B favorites. A live band also performed covers from predominantly-known black artist.
“I went to Atlanta and Houston and hung out at spoken word shows. I could have left and did shows there, but I decided to do them here.” Mayes said. “The shows started out small but continues to grow. It’s one of those nights that I look forward to each year.”
She wrote and read several other poems about self-love, black love, black appreciation and how it is to be a black mother in America.
Before each poem, she gave a brief story of why she was encouraged to write them. Inspired by the likes of Toni Morrision, Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni, Mayes was able to embody her life experiences into words.
“The biggest thing about writing is what it helps me do. Which is overcome a lot of my own battles as a child and really gain a sense of purpose and clarity,” Mayes said.
Jasmine Brown, a junior toxicology major, said she loved the live band and it was great to see and support an African American event created by African Americans.
“I would love to go to the event again because it brings people together and reminds us who we are as black women and men in America,” Brown said.
Mayes closed the show with a poem called “Black Mamaish.” The poem expressed the hardships and worries of what every mother and father of an African American child goes through. The topics of police brutality, real self-love and faith where some of the messages throughout the poem.
“My mission is to share the gift that was given to me to touch other people’s lives, the way writing and speaking changed mine,” Mayes said.
And for many, Mayes provided this gift through “A Night in Wakanda.”