A collaboration of cultures came together for the inaugural African Cultural Heritage Awareness Festival at the A. Phillip Randolph Heritage Park. It has been years since an authentic cultural festival has graced the city of Jacksonville when the annual Kuumba Festival was a mainstay. The event’s goal was to connect people of African descent through educational cultural programs and bring knowledge about Africa’s contributions and resources to the community. The festival highlighted the African connection of African-Americans and commemorated the middle passage. Participants also had the opportunity to see an African fashion show with African dancers/drumming, a scarf competition and poetry reading contest. Festivities were complete with the singing of the National Black Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” by hometown hero James Weldon Johnson.
A special highlight was a dashiki presentation bestowed upon cultural contributor drummer/performer Ryan Sinclair with a personalized dashiki. The colorful West African garments hail from West Africa and have formal and informal versions and varies from simple draped clothing to fully tailored suits.
Event collaborators and founders Jacqueline Dunbar and Jemima Mumphrey are natives of Liberia and Nigeria. The women left Africa in the 1990’s to attend school and achieve a better life for their families. “Our story is an African story that led us to America. We as African people globally need to tell our own story about the great African nation,” said Dunbar.