Inspired by and dedicated to Nikki Giovanni, “Virginia Tech: Creation. Celebration. Commission” was written and performed by Menah Pratt-Clarke during 1872 Forward: A Cultural Arts Celebration on March 25. Pratt-Clarke is vice president for strategic affairs and diversity and a member of the Council on History at Virginia Tech.

Once upon a time,
Before Bear Mountain laughed with the Monacans
Before the Tutelos trod on their territory
Before land and people were owned
There was Ut Prosim.
She was out there
Majestic and magical
Regal in her regalia
Glistening in bronze magnificence
With radical radiance
Extraordinary in presence and power.
She breathed a breath of a thousand years and exhaled:
“It’s 1872. The time has come.”
She sashayed from beyond boundaries
Seeking sedentary sediment,
Stones in shades of pink, red, gray, brown, and black.
Excavated, they emerged from down there to up above.
Becoming part of a place for
Songs and scientists
Poets and physicists
Formulas and flowers
Data and dancers
Research and ring dances
Music and medical centers
Wheels and wheelchairs
Ducks and drill fields.
A place with
Greys and Blues
Oranges and Maroons
Chapels and memorials
Snowmen and Sandman
Footprints and foot paths
People and pylons.
150 years later, Ut Prosim celebrated.
She was serving the world
Extending through extension
From the New River to the Potomac River
From humble homes to helix headquarters
Crossing seas and sowing seeds in
Switzerland and South America
Africa, Antarctica, and Asia
On the earth and in outer space.

A warrior for equity, Ut Prosim was
Fighting for more of what is
Right and good; noble and fair.
For clean water for communities
For shelter for those without
For vaccines for viruses
For critical thought and theory
For opportunity for those denied
For life, liberty, and justice for all.
Much done. Much more to do.
Because we are Virginia Tech.
Because we are Virginia Tech,
We are better than we think
But not yet quite what we want to be.
We must not only serve. We must also save.
Our world. Our planet. Ourselves.
Because we are Virginia Tech,
We will prevail.
Preparing those with potential
Readying them for battle on the fields of life.
Strong and brave; innocent and unafraid;
Kind and caring; fierce and fearless.
Forces for good.
For anyone. Anytime. Anywhere.
Be. Cause.
We are Virginia Tech.

—Menah Pratt-Clarke

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