On the fourth Tuesday of every month, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs partners up with a separate organization and creates a café, complete with slam poetry performances.
    
Opening night of this event, “The Mahogany Soul Café,” was Tuesday evening. It was co-sponsored by the Mu Iota chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha. Members of this fraternity, wearing dress pants and ties, greeted attendees as they walked into the crowded corridor of the Multicultural Center and ushered them into a small side door where the event was held.
    
“The best part of the evening was the live music because there are very few places you can see that kind of art on campus,” Alexandria Lane, sophomore in political science, said.
    
Some 70 chairs engulfed the middle of the room, while three or four tables, simply decorated in black and white tablecloth, sat front and center to the microphone. The microphone, where the main action of the evening took place, sat on a stage and was surrounded by black curtains, which only added to the atmosphere. To the left side of the stage a small band, consisting of a saxophone, piano and cello, played smooth jazz as people began filtering in.
    
“My first thought was that it was really small, and I didn’t think all of these people would fit,” Ty-Vonna Johnson, sophomore in psychology, said.
    
By the time all 160 guests had crowded into the Mahogany Soul Café, a member of the fraternity was on stage insisting that the gentlemen give up their seats to the ladies. While the room was over-crowded, it did nothing to diminish the relaxed atmosphere of the event, and the 30 or so men who were lining the edges of the room seemed to be a part of the poetry.
   
 Along the back wall there was a delicious and simple spread of McCallister’s fruit and desserts, Wing Zone chicken with pre-packaged dipping sauces and fruit punch. Most students filled their plates in a hurry, eager for the event to begin.
    
“The food was amazing” Lindsay Murphy, sophomore in pre-pharmacy, said.
   
 The slam poetry aspect of the evening was hosted by Taria Person, senior in creative writing, who is also one of the three main organizers of the Mahogany Soul Café event. She went onstage between every individual performance, ensuring that every performer got his or her fair share of clapping.
   
 “Being able to be around this great art is the most rewarding aspect of this,” Person said. “People are able to speak up here about things they might not get to otherwise.”
   
 Indeed, the poetry slam was all about speaking up. Seventeen performers got onstage and expressed themselves, always in a very passionate manner. The performers’ voices rose and fell with the tone of the poems, usually accompanied by emphatic body language. A great deal of the poetry was originally composed, although some students sang songs written by others.  Jonathan Kinnard, senior in political science, said he was very nervous when he sang “Don’t Change” by Musik.
   
 “There are few chances to express your talent in front of so many people,” Kinnard said. “You don’t always have that ability.”
    
Two of the main organizers of the Mahogany Soul Café, Justin Coleman, senior in pre-med, and Biaunca King, senior in marketing, said the planning for this event begins at least three weeks ahead of time. This means shortly they will be prepping for the next Mahogany Soul Café performance.
   
The show begins with prepared performances but ends with a series of open-mic amateurs. Anyone who would like to try his or her hand at performing, would like some good food or even just wants to appreciate a warm and accepting atmosphere is welcome to attend on Tuesday, Sept. 27.