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CSU Presents: The 2019 Kuumba Arts Festival

Cleveland State University’s Black Studies Program and Howard A. Mims African American Cultural Center will present the 2019 Kuumba Arts Festival, on Saturday, December 7 at 6:00 pm in Berkman Hall Auditorium. 

This year’s festival, Echoes From Past, is directed by Prester Pickett, M.F.A., coordinator of the Howard A. Mims African American Cultural Center, and will serve as the culminating event of fall activities associated with Project 400, CSU’s year-long commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the first Africans arriving in the present-day United States. The festival serves as a pre-Kwanzaa celebration for the Greater Cleveland community and will highlight performance art traditions associated with efforts to abolish slavery, pronounce citizenship and secure suffrage. Additionally, the festival will acknowledge the contributions of deceased community members to the Black Studies Program who have transitioned into their status as “ancestors” over the course of this past year.

Negro spirituals will be sung by members of the Warrensville Heights High School Gospel Choir in union with the Heritage Chorale under the direction of William Brewer, while African drumming and dance will be performed by members of the Djapo Cultural Arts Institute under the direction of Talise Campbell, who will receive the Silver B. Award at this year’s festival. Connections to the past will also be made through orchestrated performances of classical music sung by Steven Weems in concert with hip hop performances by Leon Hope and Carmen Brown.

The “Ain’t I a Woman” speech by Sojourner Truth will be delivered by movie actress Jeannine Gaskin and will align with a Black Lives Matter movement piece. The show also includes poetry by Langston Hughes, Sonja Sanchez, and Gil Scott Heron woven into celebrated works by Sweet Honey in the Rock brought to the stage by the Hue People. Additional professional vocalists featured on the program include Bertha Lee Pickett, Robert and Andrea Coleman and the R & B group SweetEven.