Phi Iota Alpha fraternity hosts third annual José Martí Open Mic Night

by A’Mya Saffore and Edra Timmerman / December 3, 2023

First year LSA student Tejas Thiyagarajan performs at the Jose Marti Open Mic Saturday evening. Lucas Chen/Daily.

The University of Michigan chapter of Phi Iota Alpha, a Latino fraternity, hosted its third annual José Martí Open Mic Night at Rackham Graduate School Saturday. Martí was a Cuban poet, essayist and a leader in Cuba’s movement for independence. 

Social Work student Juan Carlos Garcia opened the event by reciting poems about police violence toward young people of Color in the United States. In his initial remarks, Juan Carlos Garcia told attendees he chose these poems to highlight the impact of police brutality on both a campus-wide and national scale. 

“I think we’re in a very interesting moment in time, especially ever since (COVID-19) and the prominence of Black Lives Matter,” Juan Carlos Garcia said. “With everything happening in the Middle East and especially the police presence that happened at the protests at Ruthven — because I was actually there and I got affected by the police —  I think it was particularly important for me to try to channel that in some ways.” 

Art & Design senior Victor Luis Garcia, president of Phi Iota Alpha, presented a project he worked on for class about Mexican culture, Mesoamerica and his ancestry. He told the crowd he was interested in the role of food in indigenous Mesoamerican culture, which led him to his eventual project of engraving depictions of family memories on cutting boards.

“I’m actually going to start laser engraving (cutting boards) … as a way to start bringing that indigenous practice back into my home and back into our lives,” Victor Luis Garcia said. “So it’s pretty exciting because one day I want to use these cutting boards to cook with my family.”