Celebrating African Heritage Month

February 7, 2014 | Borough of Manhattan Community College

Thanks to the efforts of a long list of BMCC students, staff and faculty, the Opening Ceremony to this year’s African Heritage Month took place in the first-floor lounge of BMCC’s main campus building with spectacular live music, dance and spoken word performances.

Therapy, a Caribbean band from Kaptain Productions, filled the open area with the uplifting, new world energy of reggae, soca, salsa and hip hop music.

This year’s theme, “Black Struggle and Achievement,” and its celebration of the African diaspora was echoed in the recurring image on posters and other materials, of a remarkable semi-abstract painting, “Faces in Trance,” by well-known Brazilian artist Ernani Silva.

VP of Academic Affairs Michael Gillespie delivered opening remarks, and Nontraditional Career Academic Advisor Peter Roberts shared a few words of remembrance, honoring BMCC staff person Isabel Cummings.

New Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was the event’s guest speaker, and there were performances by the African Student Association—in traditional costume—as well as spoken word by Nuyorican Café poet and BMCC student Michael Wicks.

A free buffet—well worth the long line—showcased African, Caribbean, African-American, Asian and Latin dishes. This taste of the African diaspora was sponsored by the BMCC Student Government Association (SGA), and provided by Richard Halem and MBJ Food Services, who reached out to a variety of ethnic restaurants in New York City.

Office of Accessibility Director Marcos Gonzalez blended history, culture and art in a spirited demonstration of the African roots in Latin dance and salsa, and closing remarks were delivered by Professor James Blake.

In addition to the leadership of Dean Michael Gillespie—and the spearheading of opening events by Professor Blake and Student Advisor Yvonne Padmore—other faculty and staff who worked hard to make this year’s African Heritage Month happen include Everton Barrett, James Bartow, Tishana Daniel, Juliet Emanuel, Sheriney Frederick, Brandon Graham, Ashtian Holmes, La-Dana Jenkins, Freda McClean, Trianna Nunes, Carla Redux, Lesley Rennis, Peter Roberts, Iona Samuels, Tybirius Scott and Thomas Volpe.

For a listing of more African Heritage Events this month, click here.