CBSU planned virtual “Cotton Club” amid the pandemic

Many RSO’s at the University, many registered student organizations, RSOs  have been trying to keep their organizations afloat through virtual programming this semester due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Amid the pandemic, the central Black Student Union, CBSU, will host their annual “Cotton Club” event virtually this February. 

Cotton Club was brought to the University by CBSU over 30 years ago. The celebration is based off the Harlem, NY, Cotton Club established in the 1920s, during the Jim Crow era.

CBSU President Lynese McIntosh said the event showcases the many talents of students in dance, singing, fashion, comedy, and more within the campus Black community. 

“ Cotton Club is definitely a big deal on campus. It’s where we just celebrate our heritage, and just where we came from, through the art,” McIntosh said. “So there is a cultural show, a variety show, and then there is the fashion show.”

McIntosh said they don’t know exactly how the shows will be streamed, but the executive board discussed having either a live show or pre-recorded at Foellinger Auditorium. 

While Cotton Club will be virtual this year, former CBSU president, Mariah Mack,  said she is proud of the organization for continuing tradition and following COVID guidelines. 

“I heard that a lot of organizations had to cancel their events because of the pandemic,” Mack said. “While I do think that it will be difficult to execute the show, I think it is amazing that CBSU is trying to do this virtually.” 

McIntosh said the show is sentimental to the Black community. 

“Just because it is something that is so rich in our culture, and something that everyone looks forward to every year and not just because it’s a fun show, but what the show means to us[Blacks students],” McIntosh. “[CBSU] wants to make sure that at a predominantly white institution, we are showing who we are and our culture and letting that be known.” 

Mack said she hopes that the show will give other races and ethnicities the opportunity to learn more about the Black experience. 

“The Central Black Student Union is dedicated to promoting and supporting African American students at U of I and to celebrate our cultural diversity,” Mack said. “I want to spread awareness about this show to all U of I students because this really matters.”