‘America’s Got Talent’ winner Brandon Leake leads virtual spoken word performances


Graphic by Sophia Pearson

Chico State is celebrating Black History Month with a series of virtually interactive events.

CSU Chico is celebrating Black History Month with a series of Zoom presentations and film showings. Brandon Leake, a poet and motivational speaker, led a series of performances from Chico State students. The spoken word performances ranged from a series of topics but were all deeply moving in the delivery.

Leake led a virtual workshop on Feb. 3, then returned on Feb. 11 to give students the opportunity to share pieces of poetry they had written. Following the students’ performances, Leake opened up the floor for questions about his career as a poet and motivational speaker, and his experience on “America’s Got Talent.” 

Leake shared several pieces of spoken word. He opened with a poem titled “Anne,” which was about the love he has for his wife. Leake’s words were intimate and vulnerable as he shared personal feelings and experiences.

Another piece that Leake performed was one that seems to coincide with the theme of the events being a way to celebrate Black History Month. Leake shared his personal experience of being a Black man in America through an anecdote of him and a childhood friend. 

The presentation served as a safe place for people to share some of their deepest traumas as well as their greatest triumphs. Leake embraced each person who shared, and encouraged as many people as he could to participate. Fellow poets and students also showered each presenter with praise and gratitude in the chat. 

During a time of a global pandemic and the limits it sets on social gatherings and human interaction, this virtual event allowed a group of people to come together and speak freely. These feelings of togetherness were felt through the screen as it allowed for genuine human connection. 

This discussion will focus on how social justice activism has shifted to CSU Chico when students and faculty united against local inequality which ultimately resulted in the first Black studies program in the CSU system. 

In a press release from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, director Tray Robinson stated that, “During this time of celebration, we honor and celebrate Black History Month through an intersectional lens, which is reflected in this year’s events and activities.”

Information about the various events and activities are available through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s website. The next scheduled event will be a screening of the film “Mr. Soul” followed by a discussion on Feb. 18.

Sophia Pearson can be reached at [email protected] or @sophia__pearson on Twitter.