The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Tournament brought a number of celebrities to Charlotte, NC this weekend including First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Mondre Moffett. The CIAA holds championships annually in a number of sports but has become known for basketball and an undoubtedly black experience. My head is still spinning from all the amazing students I met from all over the country at the NACA Conference, which ended Tuesday. I had no time to breathe before the streets were filled with sports fans and day party hoppers.
CIAA is the oldest African-American athletic conference in the nation and consists of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) spanning the east coast from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. The association was originally founded in 1912 as the Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association and as they have evolved the annual CIAA Basketball Tournament has become one of the nation’s premier sporting events. It is the third most attended basketball tournament among all NCAA divisions. This marks the seventh year CIAA has been held in the “Queen City.”
Each year the tournament week brings a wide array of events including parties, numerous educational events, parties, step shows, healthy-living components, a battle of the bands, day parties … and by the way there is a tournament going on and the men’s and women’s finals are on Saturday night.
On Friday, Fist Lady Michelle Obama was promoting fitness at the Time Warner Cable arena – where the Democratic National Convention will be held this September. After the first women’s basketball games of this years tournament; First Lady Obama and Senator Kay Hagan made an appearance for a Let’s Move! on-court event. The Let’s Move! Initiative is focused on solving the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.
Obama and Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., got moving with students from two Charlotte elementary schools. After speaking briefly the First Lady competed in a relay and number of other activities. According to Mitch Weiss of the Associated Press “Obama and Hagan tossed them basketballs so they could take shots. Afterward, Obama hugged some of the children to cheers from the crowd attending the conference tournament.”
Meanwhile on downtown was a monsoon of irony. Establishments that are usually less than welcoming to their African-American patrons gladly accepted their dollars and even played massive amount of hip-hop. Just as the irony of a sea of Greek letters and a DJ calling out black fraternities and sororities (at a day-party) set in; I met up with a proud member of Kappa Alpha Phi, Fraternity Inc., Quentin Talley.
Mr. Talley is the founder and artistic director of OnQ Productions the only theatre company in Charlotte offering contemporary, and original performance works that reflect the black diaspora. We were both beaming with excitement as we discussed last minuet details of OnQ’s special CIAA short run of Miles & Coltrane Blue (.) by Concrete Generation.
There was very special guest sitting in with the band for Saturday’s performance; the prolific trumpeter, composer, educator, and bandleader Dr. Mondre Moffett. The chaos of extra traffic quickly faded as we walked to sound check at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center at Spirit Square where the theatre company is housed. I was able to speak with Dr. Moffett after the performance to get his opinion of the production.
Meet the cast and take a glimpse into the art and hearts of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Two men who changed the landscape of music, especially jazz.
This production explores their time together, known as the blue period, where they created the best selling jazz album of all time, Kind of Blue. Their experiences and differences as men are told through a theatrical format, using the artistic mediums of acting, dance, poetry, music, and visual art.
According to the tournament website the 2011, the CIAA Tournament brought $44.3 million to the city of Charlotte, NC. Since the year 2000, the CIAA has generated over $266 million in economic impact for the state of North Carolina and over $16.5 million in overall scholarship dollars for CIAA member institutions.
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