The Shades of Black Show has established itself as one of the most anticipated cultural showcases in the Pacific Northwest. Created in 2003 at the University of Idaho by Kwapi Vengesayi and making its debut in January of 2004, the Shades of Black Show has become a cultural phenomenon bringing together campuses and communities from across the region. The Shades of Black Show explores culture and identity through mediums of expression such as dance, spoken word/poetry, skits, stepping, song and other forms of performance. This show has found a way to merge entertainment with education, tradition with contemporary values; an insightful and energetic blend of elements that has not only enriched the experience of those performing, but also the experience of those in the attendance.
"I have been lucky enough to be a Shades of Black supporter since its inception at the University of Idaho all those years ago. Since then I have moved on from my position at the University of Idaho and have taken a position at Boise State University. In the intervening years I have been able to watch the Shades of Black show grow in scope and influence. This show is that magical nexus between artistic expression, political consciousness and creation of community."
Francisco Salinas, Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion at Boise State University
"The Shades of Black Show is a current and relevant medium that embraces all participants into the Black experience. Its dance, spoken word, and other performances highlight cultural diversity, which draws people into the current state of society. Kwapi Vengesayi's creation leaves your audience informed and empowered to better understand the world around us. I recommend this community and student based showcase to any and all universities and venues that seek to celebrate cultural "
Eddy Ruiz, Director, Office of Multicultural Affairs at University of Idaho
"What began at the University of Idaho in 2003 is now a touring enterprise making waves across the Northwest."
"What I have particularly appreciated is that everyone who is part of Shades of Black engages the audience. By this I mean that some topics challenge one to reflect on the message while other segments are pure entertainment. Hence, the title could easily be "Our Diverse Experiences in Life" instead of "Shades of Black."
Dale Graden Professor of History and Author at the University of Idaho
"I don't ever want to miss a 'Shades of Black' show again," Martinez said. "The entertainment was great, and it was very eye-opening. I've heard about things that have happened in the black community, but when you sit through a whole presentation like that, it makes you think about things ... how the world is really being impacted by the decisions people make."
The Argonaut Univesity of Idaho Student Newspaper
"This annual event stirs a lot of excitement and participation amongst the students in our centers on campus. Although the name connotes “black” in actuality it’s one of the most diversified events in the Moscow/Pullman area. Our students get so excited planning and practicing their routines in dance, poetry and other art forms. Every year, due to its reputation and entertainment it draws crowds statewide. It’s amazing to see such talent generated by undergraduates from the local colleges and universities who all collaborate in making Shades of Black a success. The vision and leadership of Kwapi make it all possible. This young man believes diversity is the norm and works hard to exhibit this concept in his creation by bringing communities together. He is deserving of all credit and recognition for his efforts. Thanks Kwapi and I look forward to working with you again this coming year."
Donna Arnold Associate Director Office of Multicultural Student Services Washington State University