Pub Becomes Speakeasy for Harlem Renaissance Night

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The EC transformed from a modern student-hangout to an open-mic showcase in a 1920’s art gallery, complete with the pub as a hidden speakeasy, on Friday Feb. 18.

Student Program Coordinator Hope Sanders (‘22) said, “The inspiration behind the night was to create a safe place where students felt comfortable to be as vulnerable and as creative as they wanted to be.”

Crawford Hall was decorated for Harlem Renaissance Night with art, beads, handmade feather-filled centerpieces and lights. 

The night racked up a wide variety of participants and was said to be decorated beautifully. 

“My jaw genuinely dropped when I walked into Crawford Hall,” Participant Shannon Mills (‘23) said. “ The decorations, sparkling cider and art [on] the walls truly transported us all back to the 1920’s.”

To further celebrate the event, participants were invited to dress in 1920’s attire and were promised the prize of a record player to a participant properly dressed for the era. 

The Night featured actor, educator and poet Othell J. Miller as emcee, along with pieces from Harlem Renaissance writers to perform at the open mic. Students were not limited to these performative pieces, however, and were also encouraged to bring their own material.

“I loved getting to hear everyone’s personal stories and [thought] it was a brave space where people felt comfortable sharing their experiences, and it was educational,” Mills said. 

“The only drawback of the night I feel is that not everyone from the Drew community could be there, but I feel as though the students who did attend were able to take away so much from the event that I wanted them to, and they left with a deeper understanding of the importance of the era and a renewed confidence in being vulnerable and creative,” Sanders said.

Sanders ran this Drew Night Life Event, which featured a collaboration with Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Coordinator Monica Madera. The event took place during Black History Month to celebrate Black excellence.

“I chose to host Harlem Renaissance Night because I wanted to have a Black History Month event where we were educating people on an important time period for African Americans as well as celebrating their individuality and creativity within that era,” said Sanders.

Madera is also coordinating the next Black & Brown at Drew event on Feb. 28 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the 1867 Lounge to discuss mental health. The event is open to the entire Drew community. 

Those interested in attending any DNL events can check out Champion 2K Bingo Night on Feb. 25 from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. in the EC Eatery.

food man red hands
Photo by Hensley Carrasco on

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