Akhenaton, Pharaoh of Egypt (1375-1358 BC), part of the Anheuser-Busch Kings and Queens of Africa Collection. Painting by Barbara Higgins Bond
When local artist and art professor Wendell Brown’s father was born in 1920, there was no Black History Month. Descendents of American slaves celebrated Emancipation Day instead.
“In the ’20s, there were people who had a direct link to slavery in the 1860s,” Brown says. “Someone who was a child in 1860 could still be alive in 1920 and remember slavery.”
By the time the assistant professor at Benedict College was a boy, however, the idea of Emancipation Day had faded.
“When I was little, I remember having Black History Week,” Brown says. It wasn’t until 1976 that the recognition of African-American History had grown into a month-long celebration.
Over the years, the word “Harambee” (pronounced “hah-RAHM-beh” — Swahili for “together pushing forward”) has been applied to the effort to see this part of history legitimized. In Columbia, this act of coming together will occur on Saturday at the Harambee Festival at Benedict College. Each year, thousands of people are drawn to the college to experience music, stage performances, food, music, art and more.
The college began celebrating this festival as an effort to unite the college and its neighbors as a community. Now in its 25th year, the 2014 festival will include a highlight of six Anheuser-Busch “Kings and Queens of Africa” paintings. The paintings — 30 altogether — were commissioned from 23 African-American artists by the company in 1975 and donated to the United Negro College Fund in 2012; the fund then distributed the paintings to several member schools, including Benedict.
Benedict was one of six historically black colleges to receive pieces from the collection, which features paintings of historic African rulers such as Cleopatra and Pharaoh Akhenaton with his wife, Queen Nefertiti.
This year, Brown worked with the Harambee committee to put together an interactive exhibition that gives people “an opportunity to build on and learn about the community in new and elevated ways.” The pieces will be shown alongside a collection of African artifacts, including traditional masks, Liberian ankle bracelets, and pieces from Nigeria and South Africa.
“The exhibition gives us a first-hand view of history that’s often been forgotten, and to excavate the story of African-American history in a way that puts it in a global perspective,” Brown says.
This will be done by letting visitors to the first and third floors of the Mays Human Resources Arena use “paints, crayons and markers to color in iconic African kings and queens, becoming actively involved in creating the pictures and becoming connected to what they’re learning.”
Kings and Queens of Africa will open Thursday and run through the Harambee Festival weekend until Sunday, Feb. 24.
Can events like these drive black history to become part of mainstream culture?
“Ask me again in 50 years,” Brown says, “but seeing how it’s progressed, it may be.”
All Harambee Festival events are free and open to the public. The festival runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. A full schedule of events can be found at benedict.edu/harambee.
$10 Spa Specials!
Join us for 60-minute facials, microdermabrasion, bikini waxing, and more for only $10! 823 Gervais Street, Suite 120. Text your appointment request to 803-468-4643.
3LAU on Sunday, October 26th and the Unofficial Skrillex Mothership Tour After-Party on the 27th. More information and tickets for both can be found here. VIP tables available.
King Lear in Finlay Park
October 16th-18th and 22nd-25th, the South Carolina Shakespeare Company presents William Shakespeare’s King Lear. All performances held at the Finlay Park Ampitheatre at 7:30 PM. For tickets and more information, click here or call 803-665-2000.
The Other Place at Trustus Theatre
Juliana Smithton is a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. A mystery unfolds as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present and the elusive truth of Juliana’s mental health boils to the surface in The Other Place, running at Trustus Theatre October 17th through November 1st. There will be a talk-back following the matinee on October 19th. Tickets can be purchased here or by calling the box office at 803-254-9732.
Veteran Vapors now open!
Veteran-owned and operated, Veteran Vapors is located at 2308 Airport Blvd. in West Columbia. This month, 10% of all juice sales will be donated to Save the Ta-Tas. Special discounts available to veterans, military and public safety officials.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Local business is searching for new associates who are looking for a fun environment to earn great wages. Great position for college students/recent graduates. Must be well-mannered with excellent customer service skills/work ethic/ability to lift heavy items/must have valid Driver’s License. Call 803-376-4884 or email resume: firstname.lastname@example.org.
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Real Estate Spotlight
Mungo Homes. Celebrating 60 years of our family building for your family. mungo.com
The Lake Carolina new home community has it all! 1 YMCA, 3 pools, 10 parks, 20+ community events each year, and much more! Learn more. www.lakecarolina.com