Casey Johnson | Staff Writer
The African American Cultural Center (AACC) will host its signature event Harambee! on September 6. Harambee!, which is Swahili for “Let us come together” and the official motto of Kenya, celebrates the new academic year by welcoming the new harvest of scholars to NC State.
The event will begin at 5 p.m. in the Washington-Sankofa Room in Witherspoon Student Center.
John Miller IV, AACC program coordinator and NC State alumnus, weighed in on the importance of this celebration.
“It’s an event to get faculty and staff who identify as black to get to know each other,” Miller said. As an undergraduate, Miller participated in Harambee five times.
This year’s Harambee! celebration will mark the African American Cultural Center’s 27th anniversary.
Miller, who also danced at Harambee! in previous years, said this year’s event will have “Art with a capital ‘A.’” The center is bringing in new professionals from the Triangle area to perform. Robert Colbert, a traditional African drummer, will begin the program with a song, and Willie Hinton, a lifelong jazz dancer and teacher, will dance.
Typically, Harambee! features a gospel choir singing the black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” but this year, Iris Wright, a first-year exploratory studies student, will sing.
And of course, there will be food provided. “Food is a large part of our celebratory pieces,” Miller said.
The event is expecting 100 to 125 people and is open to all students, faculty and staff.
Harambee! will honor specific students that have worked with the center. The attendees will also have time to network and connect with each other.
“On a majority white campus, it’s difficult to connect with other people of color,” Miller said. He linked this back to the goal of the AACC: to cultivate a space to connect with other members and allies of the community. According to Miller, the center’s theme is “the issue of blackness + _____.” The AACC will explore the intersectionality of blackness with different concepts of freedom, identity and voice.
What should people know before coming to Harambee? “Whether you come to this event or not, you should feel welcomed,” Miller said. “Whether in the cultural center or on campus, you are welcome in our space because it’s your space too.”