The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

Men of Color Initiative celebrates diversity with first-ever variety show 

David Castañeda
Vocalist MQ and guitarist Issac Arellano performed stripped back versions of “What’s Going On”, “A Man’s World” and “Lovely Day” to open the Bridging the Gap Event on Feb. 17, 2024.

Several styles of music, comedy and empowerment captivated audiences within the Corbett auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 17, as the Men of Color Initiative presented their Bridging the Gap Variety Show. This two-hour-long event was the first of its kind to occur on campus, showcasing host DJ Black alongside a number of back-to-back performers with diverse talents, backgrounds and impactful messages for attendees.   

The Men of Color, guided by Associate Vice President of Student Success, Patrick Turner, and Bobbie Green, organized the entirety of the show. The additional efforts of DJ Black and the Doña Ana NAACP chapter could not forgotten as they sponsored the event.

From inviting the eight slots of entertainment to ensuring audience engagement, several individuals worked towards accomplishing the event’s intentions.  

DJ Black served as the Master of Ceremony at NMSU’s Bridging the Gap event on Feb. 17, 2024. (David Castañeda)

“We wanted a variety show that had something there for everyone,” Turner expressed. “So, we wanted something to bring everybody together around this creativity…When I think of Black History Month, I want a diversity of people from different backgrounds, different walks of life.” 

The Men of Color’s intentions were interwoven throughout the event as they presented various forms of entertainment from musicians, comedians, dance steppers and spoken word poets.  

“This was an opportunity to show the diversity of cultural backgrounds, not just on campus but in the community,” stated Joel Gonzalez Parra, the Men of Color Initiative president. 

The Bridging the Gap Variety Show opened with a duet from guitarist Isaac Arellano and vocalist MQ. They performed three songs, “What’s Going On,” “A Man’s World” and “Lovely Day,” all of which rang beautifully in the ears of attendees.  

Another highlight of the evening was attributed to the Billy Townes Band, consisting of four jazz musicians from El Paso. Their instruments absorbed the room as the men’s impressive talents complimented each other for the entirety of the performance. The band strongly resonated with the crowd, seeing as they received a standing ovation after they finished playing.  

The Men of Color Steppers, led by Patrick Turner, performed a dance for attendees on Feb. 17, 2024. (David Castañeda)

A performance from the dance of stepping followed shortly after, with Turner and three other Men of Color student members taking center stage. Stepping is a style of percussive dance in African-American culture that typically creates musical sounds through one’s footwork and clapping.  

James Frimpong, one of the steppers and Men of Color members, explains that the group worked very hard in perfecting their choreography.  

“We had about five or four rehearsals, very intense rehearsals, even on the day before the activity, even on the day of the activity,” explained Frimpong. “We put so much effort in trying to make sure that the activity of the program goes successfully on our part.” 

The steppers’ efforts rang true as attendees cheered them on and clapped alongside the beats of their footwork. 

Bobbie Green gives closing remarks and thanks attendees for their support. Feb. 17, 2024. (David Castañeda)

The Bridging the Gap Variety Show concluded with strong words of gratitude and empowerment from Green.  

With the variety show coming to a close, the Men of Color have plans for their on-campus presence. Gonzalez Parra explained that the organization is focusing on conducting more research to benefit NMSU’s student life. 

“Who are the students from different backgrounds performing here on campus?” Gonzalez Parra questioned. “What are the reasons to help them? What factors undermine their performances?…We want to expand research efforts and be able to provide more knowledge around the topic of student success.” 

Similarly, Frimpong also shared his thoughts on the future of the Men of Color Initiative. He strongly encourages community members to get involved and work closer with the organization. 

“We have invited guests to come talk about their challenges they faced while in college or university,” Frimpong stated. “This motivates all men of color who are present and also trying to go through their academic career. We try to talk about how we can overcome barriers.” 

For more information on the organization and how to support their work, visit their NMSU webpage at Men of Color (MOC) Initiative.

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About the Contributors
Ashley Infante
Ashley Infante, News Editor
Ashley Infante is entering her first year with The Round Up as the News Editor. She is currently a junior at New Mexico State University, double majoring in Government and Justice, Political Philosophy and Law. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, but was drawn to Las Cruces for its interconnected, supportive community. Ashley’s interests in writing and journalism quickly grew during her high school experiences attending a humanities magnet program. She specifically focused on the historical development of social issues and writing about their impacts in today’s society. She continues expanding such passions at NMSU, now hoping to share students’ stories on anything from the issues they face to interests they wish to share. Outside of an academic context, Ashley enjoys long road trips, participating in outdoor sports, and watching films. She finds these activities very engaging and healing on the mind.
David Castañeda
David Castañeda, Multimedia Director
David Castañeda is starting his second year here at The Round Up, this being his first year as Multimedia Director. This is his second year at New Mexico State University and is majoring in Journalism & Media Studies. He was born and raised in El Paso, Texas as an only child but is extremely happy to be able to call Las Cruces his new home. David has had an affinity for photography since he was in elementary school and has only fallen deeper in love with the art through this job. Though David enjoys nothing more than to be behind a camera he loves to try to explore new hobbies and career options. He’s currently focused on improving his photography at The Round Up and working with the Multimedia Specialists to make the Multimedia team the best it can be. When he isn’t taking photos or editing them on Photoshop, David loves to spend his time with his 3-year-long girlfriend in their apartment where they frequently cuddle up in bed to watch some trash TV and films. On his own, he loves to play the bass and listen to music. His favorite artists are The Strokes and Gorillaz.    

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