In celebration of Black History Month, San Antonio College Black Student Alliance will host a series of events including a Poetry Slam on Thursday, Feb. 18th at 11 a.m. at the Loftin Student Center. Two slam poets, including Mondrea Harmon, are schedule to perform, but others are invited to join and recite poetry. Prizes will be awarded to the top poets.
As a transplant from the thriving poetry community in Chicago, it was vital that Harmon find a place in San Antonio that afforded him the opportunity to express himself. Poetry slams with the group Poetic Therapy To Feed Your Soul provided him that space.
“Some people box, poetry is my boxing. Some people run, this is my running. Some people overeat. This is my overindulgence because I can get into this thing so deep,” Harmon said.
He attended a Catholic high school and then went into seminary with a predominantly white student population.
Growing up, he was ridiculed and degraded in ways he didn't even understand for many years (watch the video above to find out more).
“I was in the seminary getting ready to be a priest. I never saw anything that looked like me so I ended up spending my time trying to assimilate to look like everybody else,” Harmon said.
Black History Month created the opportunity to be exposed to others who he could identify with.
“It was an 'ah yes' moment for someone in a classroom who saw so many preachers who don't look like him,” he said.
The more Harmon learned about Marcus Garvey, Malcom X, Gwendolyn Brooks and Maya Angelou the louder his calling to the spoken word became.
“I had to learn more. I had to read more. I had to eat more of this information that was put aside or hidden from me. Now I'm a beast with this information,” he said.
A sample of his work:
"So now that I have to be what I have to be, I’m going to give a uhuru and a sasa./That means freedom right now for those who are locked down./Understand that I hear your cries and I hear your call of that educated negro who wants it all."
Black History Month event calendars for many local organizations continues through the end of February including San Antonio College, St. Philip's College, Black Market Expo and Tradeshow, and San Antonio Public Library and the University of Texas at San Antonio.
At UTSA, “Black History in San Antonio: The Past, Present and Future,” an educational symposium, will take place from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday Feb. 21 at the H-E-B University Center Room 1.102, UTSA Main Campus.
"Whatever you label it," Harmon said. "It's world history."