Harambee program gives attendees ‘a taste’ of black history and culture

Jessica Cole

Ashleigh Newberrg, freshman political science major, performs with junior finance major Bryan Gadson and freshman pre-journalism major Dwayne Yates. STEPHANIE DEVER | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Smack! The audience gasps as two young women are slapped across the face. That’s how Danea Rhodes, freshman theater major, and Ashleigh Newberry, freshman political science and Spanish major, began their poem about rape at Harambee’s “A Taste of Us” last night in the Kent State Ballroom.

The poem is about rape, and how a rapist doesn’t have to be a stranger, said Newberry. “It could be someone you know, or your best friend.”

Rhodes agreed.

“A rapist doesn’t have to be stereotypical,” she said.

These ladies were only two of the talented young people featured in the presentation. The Voices of Testimony gospel choir also performed. African dancing was originally on the program, but the dancers could not attend.

“A Taste of Us” was more than just a program to the members of Harambee.

“It’s a piece of all the things we have accomplished throughout history,” said Adrian Neal, president of Harambee.

The entrance to the ballroom was lined with photos of famous black figures from the past, including: Zora Neale Hurston, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Elijah Muhammad, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

Harambee also provided soul food for the audience members to enjoy. There was fresh fruit, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, hush puppies, chicken wings, red beans and rice and orange juice to wash it all down.

Brittany Brown, junior pre-med major, used an episode of “Little Bill,” a Nickelodeon cartoon, to give the audience an idea of what the world would be like without black people.

Little Bill asks God, “What would the world be like without black people?” The answer: There would be no irons, no combs, no brushes, no hair care products, no dust pans, no mops, no clothes dryers, no pencil sharpeners, no pens, no lawn mowers, no traffic lights, no refrigerators, no furnaces, no air conditioners, no buses, no elevators and no mailboxes because they were all invented by black people.

“The program was educational,” said Veronica Pitts, senior criminal justice major, and leader of the Voices of Testimony gospel choir. “It allowed people to see a different side of African-Americans besides just on the basketball court.

“It allowed people to see how African-Americans have contributed to the community and to the world,” she said.

Attendance was not as great as the members of Harambee had hoped for, but they were positive about the outcome.

“I believe that those who attended can take away something educational,” said Camille McCraney, vice president of Harambee. “If one person would have shown up and taken something away, it would have been sufficient for us,” she said.

The students who attended did walk away with something.

“I walked away with more appreciation for the people who paved the way for me to do the things I do at this campus,” said Avery Danage, freshman music composition major.

The members of Harambee learned from this presentation as well.

Brown said she learned things that she didn’t know while in the process of putting the program together. “I shocked myself,” she said. “We’ve progressed so far.”

Contact ethnic affairs reporter Jessica Cole at [email protected].