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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The voice of our ancestors; City College celebrates Black History Month

(left to right) Trayzell White, major business management and ethnic studies (@trayzellwhite), Queen Jones, major kinesiology (@onlyonequeenjones), and Marlena Ainsworth dancing with Charles Frost on the drums at the end of “The Voices of Our Ancestors”, celebrating history and honoring ancestors through performing West African drumming, African dancing, personal historical poetry and spoken word in the Cultural Awareness Center. Photo by Sara Nevis | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

by Jocelynn Rubio | Staff Writer | [email protected]

Surrounded by her peers in the Cultural Awareness Center, City College student Nia Davis was not prepared to take a trip into her African roots.

Davis, a health education major at City College, said she was imagined being shown a film in honor of Black History Month.

“It wasn’t what I was expecting,” said Davis. “I was surprised because I was expecting a film to start, but people continued to come up and perform, which was engaging.”

Students celebrated their ancestors and history with the Sankofa Edutainment Production Company Feb. 21 as part of Black History Month in the Cultural Awareness Center (CAC) at City College.

Dr. Adrienne King, interim coordinator for the CAC, said she was delighted to have the company perform “Voices of Our Ancestors” and that students were in for a treat as they learned about their past and celebrated together.

“We are ultra excited to have one of our own groups in our community grace us with all of their talent, creativity and homage to our ancestors,” said King.

Among the members who performed were Marlena Ainsworth, Harriet Champ, Shonna McDaniels, Dr. Tchaka Muhammed, Charles Frost, Joshua Robinson and James West Sr.

“These talented individuals who are about to come forward today are putting in this work,” said West, founder of the Edutainment Production Company. “They’re channeling spirit of the ancestors and did it all themselves.”

Members of “The Voices of Our Ancestors”, celebrate history and honor their ancestors through performing West African drumming, African dancing, personal historical poetry and spoken word in the Cultural Awareness Center. Photo by Sara Nevis | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

King began by having everyone join in singing the Black National Anthem. The song was originally a poem written by James Weldon Johnson in 1900 and set to music by his brother, John Rosamond Johnson.

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In one of the early presentations, Champ performed a monologue of Princess NZinga’s life, a late 16-century monarch of the Mbundu people who fought against the Portuguese during their expansion of slave trade in Central Africa and became queen.

According to Champ, it is important for people to research about Queen NZinga because little is known about princesses in the world who are dark-skinned or African. Most associate royalty with Europeans, she said..

“This gives them an insight that we have been here for thousands and thousands of years,” said Champ.

McDaniels, the founder of the Sojourner Truth African Heritage Museum, performed a play titled “Our Moves,” a conversation between Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, two American abolitionists with a common goal to help rescue black slaves.  

According to McDaniels, Truth’s and Tubman’s life missions were very similar, but they used different methods to accomplish their goals. McDaniels said she wanted to shine a light on these two women because people mix them up because their work to abolish slavery was so similar.

“Their mission was very important to the contributions of this world,” said McDaniels. “I wanted to let the young people in particular know of their work and not be so stuck up on the world today, because we’re getting away from our values and traditions.”

Nia Davis said she learned things from McDaniels’ presentation.

“When they were explaining the history of Queen NZinga, and her having to talk with the Portuguese, that affected me most because it’s history that I don’t know and never learned in school,” said Davis. “This is my first semester of college. I don’t have any context on African history or my history being black in America.”

Williams Hally, an architecture and business major at City College, said in high school, he lacked the resources to learn about black history and attending this event helped him gain knowledge about his African roots. He also mentioned that he felt empowered after watching each performance.

“It’s always important to learn about and honor one’s own culture, respect and know about one’s own history,” said King. “But in so doing, we should also be open to learning about other people’s own history and their culture.”

She continued, “I want to teach people in the Cultural Awareness Center to love other, to appreciate, to join in. Every time we have any kind of event here, I learn from each event. It gives me a much broader perspective of the world, which we need.”

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