Nyna Nickelson | Correspondent
The African American Cultural Center, which has been celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, will host the annual Ebony Harlem Awards Sunday, May 1. Because of the big milestone the award ceremony’s theme this year will be “25 Proverbs for 25 years”.
This year the African American Cultural Center and the AYA Ambassadors partnered with the office of Multicultural Student Affairs to host the Ebony Harlem Awards, which recognizes extraordinary African-Americans who excel in a particular field, have a penchant for community-based activism that lifts up the African-American community and are actively engaged in the centers.
“Ebony Harlem was conceptualized by the creators of the African American Cultural Center Dr. Augustus Witherspoon and Dr. [Lawrence] Clark wanted to make sure that African-American students in particular understood the value of using their brilliance to build their community and to promote the mission of the African American Cultural Center,” says “Mama” Toni Thorpe, the program coordinator for the African American Cultural Center.
Each year candidates are nominated for several categories such as, art, photography, music, literature, leadership and academics. This year the center has added a category for faculty and staff. Each nominee must be in good academic standing and must receive at least two nominations to be added to a ballot of nominees.
Students votes’ are tallied and winners are announced at the event.
Each winner will receive a plaque with a Sankofa bird, the Adinkra symbol of the African American Cultural Center and a literal representation of one of the African proverbs, referenced in this year’s theme: “It is not taboo to to go back and fetch that which you have forgotten.”
“We have a collection of 25 proverbs that the community came up with that symbolize the center, they represent our culture ” says the AYA Ambassador president Kinesha Harris.
The night will not only include the award ceremony but also dancing.
“It will be lit,” said Mama Thorpe.
“Ebony Harlem is important because we may not always [be] recognized on the university level, we may not be on the website, you may not scroll through and see us but we are here. ” says Harris.
Jordan Anderson the vice president of Aya Ambassador added, “Ebony Harlem is acknowledging what we see everyday. We know what we are doing but it’s a time to get a greater appreciation from the outside community.”
In the end, Ebony Harlem is about promoting Afrocentricity and excellence. Kinesha Harris said it best: “If we don’t support ourselves, who will support us?”el