Before movies and television shows were created, people used to gather together and tell stories as a means of entertainment.

“Value the Voice,” a storytelling series, brings us back to the basics, honoring the power behind spoken word and gathering in an intimate space.

“The beautiful part about being human is we’re truly connected to others on a daily basis,” said Elizabeth James, Program Manager in the Department of Afroamerican and African studies and Daily Arts alumni. “We’ve designed an opportunity for students to come out and speak about their life experiences in a way that’s different from composed poetry or prose.”

At Tuesday’s event, students will tell stories about those who’ve helped them — whether through school, work or personal struggles. The theme is inspired by the upcoming graduation activities that many will participate in.

“We have a lot of situations where we’re celebrating our accomplishments, and it tends to drive your ego,” James said. “This is a time to stop and recognize that we have so many others who’ve helped us on this journey. It’s important that as we continue down the path of life, we’re aware of and appreciate these people.”

“Value the Voice” is hosted by the Comprehensive Studies Program (CSP) and Department of Afroamerican and African studies. It began with the intention of bringing people together in a warm and welcoming space. Since then, it’s grown into a series where students, alumni and others regularly gather and share their stories. James and Keith Jason, CSP academic advisor, even offer coaching on structuring stories so anyone can participate.

James hopes the event will invite the audience to acknowledge those who have made sacrifices and contributed to who we are. For James herself, the theme reminds her of the strong respect her culture has for its ancestors.

“It’s truly important for all of us to understand that none of us got here by ourselves,” James said. “We’re always standing on the shoulders giants and those who paved the way for us.”

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