Showing up for unity

Poet featured in photo next to microphone reading off his phone in his hand.
Torrence Brown-Smith shared his poetry inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. Full broadcast coverage can be found at BearNews98. (

The University of Northern Colorado wrapped up a week of events honoring Martin Luther King Jr. with a poetry slam Jan. 25 at the newly-renovated Campus Commons, hosted by the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center.

Three poets competed in two rounds of spoken word poetry centered on the theme of the week’s events: “Unity Begins With You.” Five randomly selected audience members then judged the competitors, who scored the poets on a scale of one to 10.

UNC senior Torrence Brown-Smith won the slam, with UNC doctoral student Rowen Thomas in second and UNC senior Mika Tancayo in third.

Thomas, who is friends with one of the event organizers, said the week’s events celebrated King and reminded everyone of the importance of civil activism.

“It’s really important to show up to the Martin Luther King events,” Thomas said. “I believe in unity and you can’t be united if you don’t show up.”


Guest poet Hakeem Furious hosted the slam, who performed a few of his own poems and raps for the event.

“I’m here to help honor Dr. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, focusing on how unity makes us stronger,” Furious said.

Other students performed their poetry non-competitively and the lineup even included an acoustic guitar performance. Members of the audience also shared their own thoughts about “what unity means to me” on strips of paper, and individuals read them aloud for the event’s conclusion.

The MGCC will celebrate Black Heritage Month throughout February. A full schedule is on the center’s website.


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