The annual Pan-African Expo was held by the Black Student’s Union in Strong Auditorium Saturday. The Expo is a celebration of African and African-American culture from the beginning of recorded history until the present day.
The BSU’s goals for the annual event are to educate people in general about African-American culture and also to bring UR closer to the Rochester community.
The Expo began with skits, dances and songs from the earliest civilizations in the world, highlighting several tribes and their art. It pointed out several historical figures now believed to be black despite stereotypical representation in our culture, such as The Queen of Sheba, Hannibal, Khofi, the “father of pyramid building” and Cleopatra.
Shortly thereafter, the show looked at the early history of blacks in North America and their solidarity in the face of slavery and oppression.
It continued until the present day, detailing the distinct African-American culture from the Harlem Renaissance to hip-hop. Dances ranged from an ancient tribal dance to a capoeira demonstration to Soul Train.
The planners of the event agree that it was a success. “It was a very successful event, partly because it was a very diverse group. A lot of hard work went into it,” freshman and vice president of the BSU Tanisha Lisle said. Junior Stephanie Fitzpatrick, Co-President of the BSU, said “Everyone did well with their parts, and the show overall was pretty good.”
In keeping with their goal of forming bonds to the outside community, several civic leaders were honored. These included minister Lawrence Evans, school principal Iris Banister and Fred Jefferson.
The show was performed almost entirely by African-Americans, but members of other races appeared in various places.
Examples include the capoeira club’s demonstration which was multiethnic, and a trio that performed a rap session that included junior Brendan Woodcock.
When asked how he got involved with the BSU, Brendan answered, “I got involved because I had friends in it and I heard a lot about it, so I just kept going.”
As well as African-American culture and history, the expo also demonstrated their fashion. performers wore period costumes for all the historical skits and several community businesses supplied organizers with modern apparel, from hip-hop to wedding attire, who were acknowledged and thanked during the show.
Levesque can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.