Black History Month celebration begins with love

Lester Mayers kicked off Muhlenberg's Black History Month festivities

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Lester Mayers (center) // Photo taken by Keanna Pena '25

“Love Letters with Lester,” the College’s first Black History Month event of 2022, took place in the Great Room on Feb. 3. The night began with two original poems performed by AnnaMaria Fernandez ‘24, and was followed by an hour-long performance by Lester Mayers and a Q&A. Mayers’ performance was a mixture of music, poetry, and meditation. Interwoven with his poems about love, being black and queer, Mayers also had Matt Carvin accompany him on piano and Keturah Jordan sing melodies which in turn created a safe and entrancing atmosphere. 

Mustafa Hall ’23 commented “I absolutely loved this event. I think this event really encapsulated the true power of centering queerness within Blackness.”

“He was able to blend poetry, music, and uplifting messages to form this powerful experience.”

– Mustafa Hall ’23

Mayers’ poems varied from topic to topic, but the central theme was to love yourself. Hall said, “Throughout the show, I felt mesmerized, inspired, and very emotional. Lester was truly, truly special.” At one point Mayers had the audience close their eyes, relax and envision their future. He wanted people to envision loving themselves in the moment, when they were 25 and when they are old and wrinkly. He wanted his audience to understand that the most important kind of love was self-love. 

Hall said, “I think what will stay with me the most is the uniqueness of his entire performance. He was able to blend poetry, music, and uplifting messages to form this powerful experience.”

As for Hailey Petrus ‘23, who organized the event, she said, “I think something that will stay with me is that you have to be real and check in with yourself all the time. Those small check-ins will let you know what you need spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. That’s important because that quick check-in can make or break your day, week or even year. Know what you need for yourself.”

She added that the event “made me feel seen. I think so often we have to work so hard on this campus to be seen by our peers so to be seen for just being was something we don’t get often on Muhlenberg’s campus.” Also, “I loved how the pieces Lester Mayers performed resonated with all the students that attended. I feel like he touched so many different parts of our Blackness yet talked about our shared experience.”

“I think this event set an amazing tone for the rest of Black History Month. Our goal overall is to uplift Black people and acknowledge [their] accomplishments.”

– Hailey Petrus ’23

In the Q&A facilitated by Emanuela Kucik, Ph.D., assistant professor of English and Africana Studies, students expressed their awe and admiration of such a transparent and uplifting performance. 

Petrus said, “I think this event set an amazing tone for the rest of Black History Month. Our goal overall is to uplift Black people and acknowledge [their] accomplishments. We would love for every Black person in our community and everyone else to finish this month being proud of who they are and where they come from. Lester Mayers started us off strong to get this goal accomplished.” Hall agreed, saying that “I think this event sets a tone of understanding, listening, and healing when it comes to the rest of the month.”

Petrus also wanted to thank “BSA, the Office of Multicultural Life, the Africana studies program, Ms. Robin [Riley-Casey], Dr. Kucik and everyone who came out for all their help, love and support. I couldn’t have done any of this by myself.”

If you would like to know more about Lester Mayers, his website is Lestermayers.com. His Instagram and Twitter are @mayerslester_

The next Black History Month event is Feb. 10 at 7 pm in the Event Space, where there will be a showing of Judas and the Black Messiah. 

An earlier version of this post incorrectly named Hailey Petrus.

Keanna Peña '25 is an English and Creative Writing major with a minor in Dance. She is a managing editor for The Weekly and loves writing about student events on campus and sharing her poetry.

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