"Afro-Am Comes Alive" (1980-1989)
In the late seventies, Wilson College African-American Society (WAAS) had a slight drop-off in membership, and as a result club activity fell. In April of 1980, WAAS hosted "AFRAM", a variant of the pre-existing "Expressions of Blackness" Weekend. For this event, WAAS showcased various elements of the experience of Black Americans through art. Vinnie Burrows performed her one woman show, "Sister, Sister!" and a Jazz concert was held in Laird Hall. WAAS also organized an admissions workshop for minority students and a series of lectures for AFRAM. Throughout the weekend, visiting lecturers spoke to the Wilson community on topics such as "Black Women in Education: A Sociopolitical Perspective," and the stereotyping of Black men in visual media. During the fall semester of 1980, WAAS held their first meeting of the semester, increasing their membership from four to twenty-two members. This increase in membership led to an increase in WAAS programs and activity on campus.
Throughout the eighties, WAAS became a club of performance. From talent shows to bringing in entertainment in the form of dance troupes, poets, and musicians. In April of 1981, WAAS put on a fashion and talent show that included dancing and "Soul Food Buffet." The talent show continued on through the decade and was a big hit on campus, frequently featured in the Billboard and yearbooks.
However, WAAS did not lose their focus on community outreach and fostering a greater understanding of African-American culture and related issues. In 1983, the club sponsored a lecture on African Art by Elizabeth Hudnut Clarkson. In 1986, Afro-Am Weekend showcased student talents with a dance recital and show. In the program for the event, WAAS describes their central goal as being bringing Wilson together to "come to a greater appreciation of the differences in our culture and heritage."
"There are many divisive forces in the world today that threaten unity and brotherhood. We know some of these as racism, apartheid, prejudice, discrimination, sexism, terrorism. This is the ongoing battle between good and evil, ancient as time itself; a conflict that many never reckoned with through man's intervention alone. Wilson's Afro-Am chooses to accentuate the positive and negate the negative. We invite you to share with us this weekend of April 11-13 to ponder the depth and scope of a question, 'Why can't we live together,' as well as come together as proof positive that WE can live together no matter what our cultural or racial background." - An excerpt from "Afro-Am Weekend '86" program
As the decade came to a close, so did Afro-Am Weekend. The goals and aims of WAAS did not waver in the coming years, but as the resources for WAAS changed, so did the club activities.