On the 24 of April, African/African-American Studies, Women and Gender Studies, EKU School of Music, EKU Percussion Studio, EKoS, and the EKU Diversity Office teamed up to bring a celebration of African culture through the Diversity Concert at O’Donnell Hall.
The event, through stories, music, and dance, helped to highlight the importance and value of a diverse world. The presentations were not limited to just African nationalities, but relayed stories of other diverse peoples from all over the world.
The event opened with Ogechi Anyanwu, director of African/African-American Studies, addressing the crowd to welcome everyone and introduce the groups that collaborated to bring the event to fruition.
Afterwards, Bernardo Scrambone, coordinator of the keyboard division in the School of Music, spoke about his personal experiences with diversity. Having come from Brazil, he has had to come to terms with his own diverse background. Scrambone told the story of a time when he was required to fill out his ethnicity on a form, and wasn’t quite sure what to put.
“It said European, and I thought no. And then it said African and I thought no. And then it said hispanic, and Brazil is the only country in South America that doesn’t speak Spanish, so I said no. I ended up marking Native American, because I am native to America,” Scrambone said. “The clerk was very confused by my answer.”
Scrambone went on to say this was the first time he had really thought about it. Diversity, he said, was defined as people from radically different experiences that come together for a common goal.
Scrambone said he was excited to bring the idea of a celebration of African culture to Timothy Forde, vice provost for diversity and chief diversity officer. Scrambone hopes to do the same with Asian and Latin cultures, and Women and Gender studies.
“A laugh or a smile has no nationality, joy speaks and lives in all nations,” Forde said as he opened his portion of the event.
Forde then quoted Martin Luther King Jr’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, and said “we must learn to live together.”
Jason Koontz, director of percussion studies, then took the podium to introduce members of the percussion studio. Koontz introduced the instruments the group would be playing, and explained the difference between European and African music styles.
After the music demonstration, Koontz introduced the volunteer dance group that had been practicing for two days prior to the show.
After the performance, senior Alesia Miller took the stage to give a small excerpt from her essay “What Diversity Means to Me.” In her speech, she explained how her experience with diversity started in her neighborhood growing up. There was a Greek Deli down the street from her Puerto Rican neighbors across from her elderly white neighbors.
“My parents taught me to respect all people,” Miller said. “Regardless of their history or background.”
Miller said that people tend to unnecessarily put labels and classifications on others that are not needed, and the only way to truly help it it to open one’s eyes and embrace diversity the way it is.
Jessica Greens, director of the Eastern Kentucky EKos, then took the stage to introduce EKU’s acapella group. The mix of fifteen students paid tribute to Michael Jackson, who Greens said was “a revolutionary for peace and love.”
EKoS opened with “I Want You Back” and continued on with another eighteen Michael Jackson classics.
EKU Study Abroad director Jennifer White then took the stage to explain the opportunities offered by her program.
Finally, the event closed with the presentation of African/African-American Studies awards. Writer’s awards were presented by Eugene Palka, vice president of Student Success. Teaching and service awards were presented by Sara Zeigler, Dean of the College of Letter Arts and Social Sciences