PITTSBURG - PSU's Black Student Association will kick off Black History Month on Thursday with an event started three years ago as a way to share music, dance, and culture with not just the campus, but the community.

"It's very uplifting and moving, very powerful — and it's not just for students of color," said Kiarrah Moore, a junior in Communication from Kansas City. "It's for anyone."

"Being a part of the BSA, it is part of our duty to focus on campus diversity and introduce the rest of the campus to what we contribute, what we bring," she said.

The 3rd Annual Gospel Explosion will begin at 7 p.m. in the Sharon Dean Recital Hall in McCray Hall, with refreshments served from 6 to 7 p.m. in the lobby.

"African Americans have a rich tradition of celebrating our heritage with gospel music," said Deatra Rose, director of Student Diversity Programs at PSU.

That gospel tradition dates to slavery.

"Gospel was a way they looked for hope," Moore said. "God was seen as their source of light, their source of freedom. Gospel was how they were able to overcome, to get through the day."

Moore will be one of several students to perform as part of a praise and worship choir and a praise dance worship team.

In addition to those student performances, Pastor Mark Lehman and Pastor Michael Rose of Pittsburg will speak, as will Pastor Darron Edwards, the father of senior DeMarcus Edwards, of Independence, Kansas.

"They'll share great words of wisdom," Moore said.

Rose noted that the event is open free to the community as well as the campus.

"We really get a lot of community support," she said. "Everyone is welcome."