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Taste of Culture celebrates Black history

Four people sitting on a blue couch in front of drums
Adrien Gobin / THE GATEPOST

By Francisco Omar Fernandez Rodriguez

Asst. Arts & Features Editor

On Feb. 20 the Center for Inclusive Excellence (CIE) worked with the Black Student Union and the African Student Association to host a Taste of Culture event to celebrate Black History Month. 

It was originally planned for the previous Tuesday but inclement weather caused the event to be postponed.

The director of the CIE, Jerome Burke, said they wanted to do something fun that would also celebrate African culture. He said they wanted to teach people as well.

Burke added when the CIE was deciding which groups would connect the most to this event, they thought the Black Student Union and African Student Association would be great fits. He said they were strongly involved, helping decide what would be on the menu and what fun activity they could do.

He said students should be encouraged to talk more about events they want to host, especially in the CIE, and they often just need some support to make them happen.

He added, “I just really want to shout out to the Black Student Union and the African Student Association and just say kudos on this one and great job.”

When asked how difficult the event was to set up, he said it was “a little challenging” because of the date change. He added they had to give a special request to Sodexo for the food, since it is not on their usual menu. He said they had some jollof rice, meat pies, jerk chicken, and more.

For the fun activity, he said they wanted “An expert, someone who we thought could really engage with the students.” They went with a drumming group called Crocodile River.

Burke said Black History Month is extremely relevant and everyone should understand the contribution of the Black community. He added this year’s Black History Month theme is African American art, so they wanted to do something where a form of art was the focal point. They decided on music.

On some tables were many miniature flags. Emma Laurie, program coordinator for the CIE, and Burke said there were two of each flag, and there were flags for 64 countries related to Black History Month.

During the event, Jastrame Pierresen, freshman, had a presentation about Black History. It covered events from Black Americans sitting in white-only counters in protest to Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem. 

She focused on Kaepernick’s protest, describing the impact it had on the country and how controversial it was.

Jastrame said after he left the NFL he maintained a strong social media presence and he continues to protest police brutality. She played a Nike ad featuring Kaepernick that promoted social justice. 

Burke introduced University Police’s Community Officer Andrew Frimpong. Frimpong said he has been introducing himself in the dorms and he wants everyone to feel welcome to talk to him.

Members from Crocodile River played their drums, led by one of their co-founders Issa Coulibaly. He said he has been playing for at least 30 years, and has won an award for his performance. 

He said the band’s name comes from his hometown, Bamako, Mali. He said “Bamako” translates to “Crocodile River.”

Coulibaly said his favorite instrument is the djembe, which he played during the event. It is a drum originating from West Africa, and he said it’s one of the most famous drums today.

The group had brought many drums and gave several audience members one to play along during the event.

He said drumming helps people exercise, and anyone can do it. He added when playing the drums, “you forget about all the stress and bills, you know, stuff like that.” 

Coulibaly added, “Drumming is something to keep you in life, keep your spirits happy.”


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