By Corey Robinson
Speech can be a powerful and creative tool that forms the personal style and expresses the passion from deep inside the speaker.
Sunshine Matthews from the Ujima Project’s artist showcase made such an impact.
The Ujima Student Club President Leilatou Nikiema coordinated a Black History Month themed artist showcase and contest to give the students of Riverside City College the opportunity to express themselves. The art for this activity ranged from handmade crafts, speeches and music.
“My speech was meant to educate and elevate, not to put down any race,” Matthews, who was the third place contest winner, said. This was the essence of her speech, spoken during the artist show case Feb. 28.
Matthews is an RCC student currently active in the Ujima Project. Many of her supporters and friends attended the showcase to listen to her perspective on the meaning of Black History Month. The audience also included those who were attracted by the performances and decorative flyers.
Matthews has had her encounters with racism problems within the Riverside community. Instead of bitterly attacking the problems of the community with anger, she utilized her voice to shower her African-American ancestors with appreciation.
“My people were kings and queens who built pyramids and statues that still exist today … mountains and monuments that still exist currently,” Matthews said in her speech. “We were brought here by the millions, treated less then but always needed.”
Matthews created the image of a history of people “stripped” of their natural rights, deprived of human necessities and refused the right to teach as well as learn. She is the result of the survival of her people. Her art presents the message of “what doesn’t kill you, will make you stronger.”
Matthews reminded the student body that racism within her school setting is unacceptable. She used her speech to express herself while encouraging competition within her school atmosphere. She also motivated African-American students to take a step to build their confidence in order to express themselves in a manner that influences others.
“Art is a form of expression, its personal,” Matthews said. “I thought I’d share what was personal to me.”
Other RCC students were able to understand Matthews on a very personal topic.
“Sunshine had a very powerful speech,” Toni Goins, an attendee, said. “When she talks about our ancestors and how it’s important to know your history out there, I had a connection.”
For more information on Ujima Project, please visit the Bradshaw Building in room 110 and meetings are held Tuesdays from 12:50-1:50 p.m.