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Volume 68, Issue 102, Monday, February 24, 2003


Musicians, dancers celebrate history 

By Sheree Stubblefield
The Daily Cougar

As African Heritage Month comes to an end, one last program to proclaim the history of African people in the United States as well as abroad was in order. The Eta Lambda chapter Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. hosted "Embrace Your Past, Celebrate Your Future" Sunday night in the Houston Room in the University Center. 

"The purpose of the program was to teach, enlighten, and entertain," said Ariel Brinkley, sophomore pre-pharmacy major. 

Four speakers presented their ideas on the state of African people in Ancient Africa through enslavement to reconstruction and what the focus should be in the future. In between acts, there was entertainment in the form of African dance, urban hip-hip, and poetry. 

The program began with the singing of the black national anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Ahati Toure, asssistant director of African-American Studies was the first speaker and spoke on Ancient Africa. Toure spoke of the history of the world, the use of the racial epithet "nigger" and concluded that, "in the beginning was and is Africa and African people," he said. 

Toure brought his speech to a close by addressing the problem of white supremacy and supposed African inferiority. He discussed the things African people have contributed to civilization and by conveying that he was, "not trying to establish notions of African superiority just establishing that (African people) have been lied to about who (they) really are."

The second speaker was Cardinal Aswad Walker of the Shrine of the Black Madonna who reflected on enslavement and colonialism of African people. Walker had the audience close their eyes and imagine life in Africa and the journey from this continent to the infamous Middle Passage to American enslavement. He wanted the listeners to experience being, "taken captive as slaves and the unimaginable suffering that will continue for 400 years and even today." 

He stressed that this story must be told and that African people must, "never give up hope and strike out for freedom because (African people) still have a struggle today."

Reconstruction and the freedom of Africans around the globe was the them of the third presentation by Sankofa member Chioma Akuchie. She presented the history of African-Americans after freedom from enslavement when, "black was beautiful, black was power," Akuchie said. Akuchie also stressed the importance of, "never (forgetting) those who paved the way." At the end of her speech she named a number of people who lived their lives fighting for African people at large including the late UH professor, Dr. Jelani Williams and Lynn Eusan who helped put the AAS program in place.

UH alumni, KAP member and astronaut, Dr. Bernard Johnson focused on what may be the future of blacks. His emphasized to the students that, "(they) are the future and (the) future resides in your dreams." 

Johnson told the audience of mainly students that if they donit fulfill their dreams, then they will not have a future, he said.

More than 250 people attended the event -- a considerable number. 

"This was the first time something like this was put on and you donit see this on the collegiate level," said Danyahel Norris, graduating chemical engineering major, coordinator and co-host of the program. 

"The event was an all-around success," Norris said. Part of the uniqueness of the affair was that vendors were invited to sell their art and other items during the program. 

Ken Holmes, a spectator and 1988 alumni, and KAP adviser for more than two years, thought that the event was very good for their first time and said "it will be a bigger and better program when joined by other student organizations."

"(Overall), Iim very pleased," said Holmes.

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