Wesleyan Celebrates Black Art and Artists at Jubilee

By Rose Chen ’26

A long running campus tradition during Black History Month, students, faculty, and other community members came out for Jubilee, Wesleyan University’s celebration of Black art and talent.

“I knew that Jubilee was an event I wanted to plan because the legacy of Black expression through music is really important to me,” Race, Ethnicity, and Nationality Intern for the Resource Center Alise Mackey ’24, who was the student liaison for the Black History Month planning committee, said. “Through playing music on campus I’ve been able to experience amazing community and meet great friends. Music has also had the power to sustain us as a people through generations, so I’m really happy that I was able to play a part in carrying on the legacy of Jubilee this year.”

Ujamaa (Black Student Union), African Students Association, Caribbean Student Association, Muslim Student Association, Resource Center, and Office of Student Involvement organized the Feb. 24 festival which took place at Beckham Hall.

Suya, an Afro dance troupe; LorWood (Langston Woody ’25); Kofi McFadigon ’26; Oluchi Chukwuemeka ’26; Nolan Lewis ’25; Shekinah Mba; Black Raspberry, Wesleyan’s all-Black music collective; and members of TrueLife Records, an independent record label created by Judeley Jean-Charles ‘24, including Kailer Brothers ’25 and Gavin Cui ’26 all took the stage.

“I performed as an artist, Truey Judes, for the beginning part of the TrueLife set,” Jean-Charles said. “I wanted to speak about mental health and just trying to be a light to others that may be in the dark. It’s not easy being stuck in your thoughts alone and my overall goal is to make as many people as I can have a smile on their faces and not feel alone.”

Jean-Charles also pulled together an impromptu performance with Pelumi Sokunbi ‘25—a songwriter, musician, and creative consultant for TrueLife Records—and Woody, who is the first artist at Wesleyan with whom Jean-Charles collaborated.

Jubilee was also Brothers’ first performance with TrueLife Records. She sang two covers and the first original song she recorded to much love and appreciation from the audience. Jazmin Davis ’24 supported Brothers on bass and guitar.

“TrueLife Records was an idea that came to mind after I realized that I really enjoy working with artists and other creative/talented people on campus,” Jean-Charles said. “I wasn’t really taught to embrace my creativity being a first-generation student. But somewhere along the line I had an epiphany, especially being around such talented people. … You only allow yourself to not achieve. I am very thankful for everyone that has participated in helping all of this come to life and I am very proud of Kailer [Brothers] and everyone else. I hope to work with more people around campus and overall to help bring others’ dreams to life just like Wesleyan has done for me.”

Emcees Tyler Phillip ’26 and Brianna Johnson ’24 led the audience in the electric slide and cupid shuffle during intermission, when the duo also raffled off Black haircare products.

“As someone who planned the event, ironically the best part, the most fun part in the entire event was the unplanned part,” Tre Studgeon ‘26, one of the main coordinators of Jubilee, said of the impromptu dance break. “I turned a certain light on, which was an accident—that was not the light I meant to turn on, but it’s the one that turned on and it turned out perfectly. Shout out Brie and Tyler for their wonderful antics. … it really made a difference between this year and last year.”

Fan favorite Black Raspberry and some of the night’s previous performers capped off the night.

“It was such a reward seeing [Ujamaa] board members show up for each other, enjoy the event, and encourage each other through the many setbacks,” Mackey said. “Ujamaa has become such an important part of my life on campus, and I am endlessly grateful for every single member who put in the work for the event to go so smoothly. Next year will definitely be even bigger and better thanks to these folks.”

This article was originally published on the Wesleyan Connection.