African American Cultural Arts Festival Marks 25 Years

July 26, 2014

Washington Park in Charlottesville was set as the backdrop for the 25th Annual African American Cultural Arts Festival.

"It's a marketplace, it's a festival, it's a cultural happening. It's a necessary opportunity and time for black folks to come together and for folks who enjoy, appreciate or at least respect African culture and come and join us as well," says Festival founder Baba Jamal Koram

Koram says the event does a great job at offering glimpses into several dimensions of African American history.

"Art, literature, performance, entertainment, storytelling, and business, all of those are apart of who we are. We need an opportunity to sample our food and buy our hair care products and to have a piece of artwork that reflects us on our walls at home," he says.

There was more than food and entertainment though, several of the vendors at the festival made it their mission to expose the younger generation to African American culture.

Dale Johnson is the founder of The Helen Project, an organization that helps grandmothers in Africa who are raising orphan children affected by HIV/AIDS.

"One little girl today, her cousin bought her a bracelet and so she brought her cousin back over for me to tell her where it came from and I said this is from Kenya. I said, can you say Kenya and she said Keyna. So she knows that it was made by grandmother so she can have something and tell her friends, I've got something from Africa," she says.

For many, besides exploring the many expressions of art, the festival is just a great way to reconnect with the community.


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