Swathi Karthik/Nubian Message
Yesenia Jones | Staff Writer
On Thursday, Aug. 6, the African American Cultural Center hosted its annual event Harambee! in the Washington-Sankofa Room. The event created a space in which positivity along with appreciation for our ancestors consumed the atmosphere.
According to Toni “Mama” Thorpe, retired AACC program coordinator, Harambee is “a time to celebrate the harvest, the blessings of a new season. And as you can see in the wonderful cultural center—with an amazing new staff, with new building constructs, with new family—we have a new harvest. With the wonderful kings and queens that are here for the first time… we have new fruits, new gifts, new blessings.”
The event began with a brief introduction, followed by a musical selection from Uninhibited Praise Gospel Choir, an NC State student organization. Two members from UPGC sang My Help (Cometh from the Lord) by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
“Thinking about the roots of the African American Cultural Center, they are here to support us” said Maayan Eaves, UPGC member and a second-year student studying communication and arts studies. “We know that foundationally here at NC State that is our help. And together, our help is the lord. The song is a testament to that.”
Harambee! followed a theme of appreciation for the AACC and dedication to those who have come before us. Throughout the event, speakers praised the AACC staff’s efforts to create a space on campus for African-American students.
“This space has pushed me past my personal boundaries towards growth and success,” said Achaia Dent, president of AYA Ambassadors and fourth-year student studying psychology. “In this place, I have interacted with the most brilliant scholars.”
Dent continued, “I have seen the wisdom, spirit and effort put into this place. I have seen intention and impact work toward the same goal. I have seen fellowship, collaborative effort and diligence… The African American Cultural Center is my forever home. And I am so grateful to have walked through those doors.”
Darryl Lester, Institute for Emerging Issues assistant director and former AACC assistant director, led a dedication to our ancestors by pouring water into a plant as symbolic libations. During this act of dedication, Lester honored his African ancestors, the staff in the African American Cultural Center, the staff in the residence halls and anyone who has made sacrifices for current African-American students to be in the position they are today. He also asked members of the audience to make their own dedications while he poured libations.
Lester’s dedication was followed by a performative art piece by Willie Hinton, an Enloe High School alumnus and renowned dancer. Hinton was accompanied by a drum soloist as he spoke and danced.
Harambee! concluded with the Harambee circle led by Mama Thorpe.
“The Harambee circle represents the strength of our collective efforts,” Thorpe said. “We say ‘Harambee’ seven times, the number of completion. So that our voices will resonate to the highest heights giving honor to those who came before us, giving promise to those who will come behind us. In all of our brilliance, we are nothing alone; we are everything together.”