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Annual Shades of Black returns

Submitted by on 02.06.2014 – 9:28 pm 2 Comments

Shades a Black, a showcase of culture, will be at the University of Idaho for the 11th year in a row.

UI alumnus and Shades of Black creator Kwapi Vengesayi will host the show at 5 p.m., Saturday in the Student Union Building Ballroom. Admission is free.

Vengesayi said although Shades of Black originally began as a Black History Month showcase, it eventually evolved into a multicultural showcase.

Vengesayi, who grew up in Zimbabwe, Africa, came to UI as an international student to receive a degree in architecture. When he was a sophomore, he thought of the idea to have an African American culture showcase.

“I was always involved with the multicultural community, with African Students Association, I was also director of diversity affairs in student government,” Vengesayi said. “Because I had a good relationship with Washington State University, I realized that there were lots of vibrant African American student organizations on both campuses, but we never had an event that brought people together as people of African descent.”

Vengesayi said that he wanted an event that would bring all the different cultures and energies from these organizations together.

“As the show evolved, one thing I started to realize was that you don’t have to be black to enjoy the black experience and to be part of the black experience,” Vengesayi said. “Although Shades of Black still has its roots in the black experience, it’s now more than that.”

Guadalupe Gutierrez, who helped plan Shades of Black, said it is an event then everyone in the multicultural community looks forward to.

“It brings everyone together,” Gutierrez said.

Shades of Black doesn’t only happen on the UI campus, it has now expanded to different campuses in the Northwest.

Gutierrez said that Boise State University and Eastern Washington University also hold an annual Shades of Black Show. WSU will host its first Shades of Black Show in the fall.

“For some, Shades of Black gives them a sense of place, a sense of acceptance, a sense of acknowledgement. For others, it gives them an experience outside of their own comfort zone,” Vengesayi said. “Shades of Black is a showcase that enhances the multicultural experience of students on campus.”

Iris Alatorre can be reached at


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