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History ACTIVE 2014: the African Diaspora and the Americas Today


Each day the students were presented with information on different aspects of the African Diaspora including an introduction to slavery and the diaspora that featured a presentation from Amad Shakur, director of the Center for the African Diaspora, on Monday, June 23. On Tuesday, students looked at the history and Africanity of music with a drumming session from the McCrorey YMCA senior drummers, a field trip to the Latibah Collard Green Museum, and a learning concert from Toni Tupponce and A Sign of the Times. Wednesday was designated as a food and art day including a cooking demonstration with Mert’s Heart and Soul owner James Bazzelle and a visit to the Mint Museum of Art on Randolph followed by a mask-making activity with Catherine Courtlandt-McElvane. Thursday’s activities rounded out the week of learning with dance sessions from LaTanya Johnson of The Sycamore Project and presentations from Charlotte Capoeira and S and A Peruvian dancers. 

From the knowledge they gained throughout the week, the students created a showcase on Friday to celebrate what they learned and the connections they made.

All of the students had presentations that showed how they saw Africa in their daily lives. Participant Anna Azaglosaid, “From History ACTIVE I have learned that most things come from Africa. The art I see, the beats I hear, and the dances I do. I see Africa’s influence in everyday things that most people do not see. Africa is everywhere and it has opened my eyes.”

When Anna first showed up at the Levine Museum of the New South to participate in the HistoryACTIVEprogram, she was very quiet and reserved. By Friday, for her showcase, she blossomed and had everyone in the room on their feet and dancing the “Azonto,” a contemporary Ghanaian dance, and having a good time. Another 12 students, along with Anna, presented showcases that were all unique, informative and fun in their own way.

The fun does not stop there. HistoryACTIVE students will have a chance to partake in a 3-day long bus trip to Charleston, South Carolina from July 14-16. In Charleston, the students will see first-hand how the African Diaspora affected the South. Activities will include tours of plantations, historic sites and museums, and the S.C. Sea Islands

It’s just one more extension of the learning and the reason Anna has already signed up to take the trip, “HistoryACTIVE is a program that will teach you and open your eyes, so you can see the real world.”

written by Shantel Johnson, History ACTIVE Intern

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