YSU African American History Month: A celebration to bridge generations

February is a month to reflect on the advancements and achievements made throughout African American history in the United States. Victor Wan-Tatah, Youngstown State University professor and director of Africana Studies, plans to help the younger generation do just that with the many lectures and events that will take place on campus.

The university kicked off its celebration of African American History Month on Saturday with the “The African Marketplace” in the Chestnut Room of Kilcawley Center. The marketplace featured a group of dancers known as the Harambee and offered various African and African-American trinkets, art and Afrocentric writings available for purchase.

“We are talking about the type of excitement and type of creations that are rare and reflect the type of soul in this period of Africans,” Wan-Tatah said. “The African marketplace is a reflection of the typical western market in west Africa, for instance.”

Wan-Tatah said that these items — such as the art, masks, food and artifacts — were unique and would not be found in department stores. He also said that when people come to the marketplace, it is more about catching up and networking to others rather than shopping.

“It [was] a fun place for entertainment, information and to get to know people,” said Wan-Tatah.

Wan-Tatah said that though he plans on helping the younger generation never forget where they came from, he wants everyone to appreciate the history of African culture — not just the youngsters.

On Monday, the opening reception to Maple Turner’s art exhibition began at 5:30 p.m. in the Bliss Hall Gallery. After the opening reception, the artist presentation and discussion was held in the auditorium of the McDonough Museum. The exhibit will be open until Feb. 28.

Samuel Adu-poku, the director of the exhibition and a YSU professor, said that this was the first time a YSU alumn had been chosen to be the feature artist for this event.

“We tend to try to ignore status and renown when choosing an artist, to give lesser-known or smaller artists a chance to show off their work,” said Adu-poku

A Keynote Lecture by Molefi Asante,one of the top ten most widely-read African American scholars, will take place on Feb. 1. The esteemed African studies scholar will speak at 7 p.m. in the Chestnut Room of Kilcawley.

A lecture exploring the global problem of human tracking will take place on Feb. 18 in the Ohio Room. “Modern Day Slavery in Human Trafficking” will be held at 6:30 p.m. and will be presented by Denise Narcisse, and associate professor from the department of Anthropology and Sociology at YSU.

On Feb. 22, a panel discussion on the Nelson Mandela legacy will take place in the Chestnut Room at 7 p.m. Panelists will be answering questions and will help the audience see how Mandela, the champion of human rights, left a lasting impact on the world.

The celebration will conclude with a poetry reading completion in the Jones Room of Kilcawley on Feb. 26. A panel of judges will select the best three poems and prizes will be awarded accordingly.