‘Harambee’ for Black History Month

Black History Month

Vendors displayed traditional African jewelry and clothing Saturday afternoon in Kilcawley Center’s Chestnut Room. The marketplace was held as part of Black History Month. Photo by Justin Carissimo/The Jambar.

February marks Black History Month and Youngstown State University kicked off its celebration with an African Marketplace on Saturday.

The Harambee Youth Group of Youngstown performed traditional African music and dances during the event. The Swahili word “Harambee” means “let’s do it all together” when translated into English.

People from various backgrounds came together to display and sell African outfits, artifacts, books, paintings and jewelry to patrons at Kilcawley Center’s Chestnut Room.

Victor Wan-Tatah, director of Africana Studies, said everyone can learn something from the marketplace.

“It’s not just about buying items that you can’t find at a store. It’s about networking, learning about a new culture and meeting new people,” he said.

Participants saw dancers perform traditional African dances while backed up by the rhythm of the Harambee drum circle.

“If we stopped celebrating this month, it would be a major omission of knowledge from the culture. It’s just as important as many of the courses we offer in the university,” Wan-Tatah said.

Throughout February, the university will hold numerous events across campus to honor the African culture. The festivities will showcase African artists, musicians, poets and the African American Pyramid Awards.

The African American Pyramid Awards recognize exceptional students from Youngstown City Schools. The event is co-sponsored by the Family Empowerment Institute and Youngstown City Schools.

Awards will be presented to students, mentors and parents that have displayed dedication to helping students with their goals.

Katie DiGiacamo, a freshman at YSU, says she plans on attending the event if she can find the time between her job and homework.

“I think it’s important that nobody feels left out; so, I think these events are great. It’s definitely better than sitting at home. I’ll be making an effort to go,” she said.

Wan-Tatah said that the celebration of culture will be an exciting experience for students and faculty.

“Everyone will be able to get together and enjoy a different culture and hopefully take away a new learning experience. It’s going to be a good time,” Wan-Tatah said.

The ceremony will be held Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Kilcawley Center’s Chestnut Room.

“This is a great opportunity to showcase the hard work and talents of students,” Wan-Tatah said. “We will also celebrate achievements of parents and teachers who give students the support to succeed.”

Jenna Sliwinski, a sophomore at YSU, says she’s excited for the events being held around campus.

“People need to remember the history of African Americans, they made the country what it is today,” Sliwinski said.