By Liliana Duarte / Staff Writer
Charlotte “Mama C” Hill O’Neal, Ibrahim Arsalan and Melzia Dia performed at a Black history month event at the PCC on Monday, Feb 24.
All three of the guests were musicians and writers.
As people gathered, Mama C, came out and the crowd clapped and screamed excitedly. Mama C began by introducing herself. She spoke positively of her husband Pete O’Neal and of the time she spent as a Black Panther. She also said how she felt about the time she was spending in Long Beach. “The spirit is beautiful and all of y’all,” she said.
After her introduction, a video of her African culture and how she grew up was shown. From this video, everyone learned that she was born and raised in Kansas City, Mo. In 1970 her husband and she moved from the U.S. and eventually went to Tanzania in Africa.
“I almost lost my strive that says ‘she ain’t from here.’” Mama C said that when she arrived in Tanzania, she wrote her first poem.
By the time the video finished, the entire audience knew how much she loved music. Mama C even titled one of her songs “Music is My Medicine.”
As she explained her passion for music, she said, “I could be on my deathbed and hear music and I will rise up.”
Music has been in her family for many years. Her mother was a pianist for 50 years and her father and aunts sang for many years as well.
When the video finished, a quick break was scheduled. Dia prepared for his performance.
As Dia fixed and tested his microphone, he began to sing freely and Mama C couldn’t help but to join him.
Dia was alongside his brother who helps him with his music. One of Dia’s songs was named “Dance.” Dia explained how he went to a place where people danced to salsa and he got inspired and wrote “Dance.”
During two to three breaks in the event, Mama C sang freely with Dia and others in attendance.
Arsalan also performed some of his music.
Netta Gill, 24, a communications studies major and PCC Cultural Affairs president, said, “After listening to the different types of music and hearing about the African culture, I learned a lot about me. Being African and Cuban, I have been blindsided to who I am because my family in other countries has passed away. But this event brought it home for me.”
Another positive statement from the event is from Shunlece Laurant who is the LAC’s Club Senate president. Laurant said, “It was culturally enriching and very informative on some of our forgotten culture. I definitely left inspired to look into more of my African ancestry. Great event.”