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Media Contacts

Oyibo Afoaku
Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center

George Vlahakis
Media Relations

Bradley Allen
Union Board

Last modified: Thursday, February 3, 2005

Africana Festival, Soweto Gospel Choir and lecture highlight IUB's Black History Month celebration

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A day-long Africana festival, presentations by activist Afeni Shakur and author/actress Jasmine Guy, and a performance by the Soweto Gospel Choir will highlight an active celebration of Black History Month at Indiana University Bloomington.

The month's activities kick off tonight (Feb. 3) with the Third Annual Sound the Drum and Family Fest, 7-8:30 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave. It is a celebration of black culture with remarks, prayers, acknowledgements and commitments at the sound of the drum. Participants will reaffirm their commitment to the seven principles of Kwanza -- unity, self determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith in oneself, family and community -- as guiding principles.

The center also will be the site for the Third Annual Africana Festival on Feb. 26, which will have the theme, "Unity in the Spirit of Diversity."

Union Board will present a lecture on Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. with Shakur, the mother of influential rap artist Tupac Shakur. She also is a former Black Panther and founder of Amaru Records, and she will speak about her son, her past in the Black Panther Movement and overcoming addiction. She will be joined by Jasmine Guy, an acclaimed actress, dancer, producer, director, author and Shakur's good friend. Guy will speak on her life and her book, Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary. Together, they will talk about the importance of youth empowerment. Following the lecture at the IU Auditorium, there will be a short session for questions and answers, and a book signing.

The Soweto Gospel Choir, an awe-inspiring vocal ensemble performing tribal, traditional and popular African gospel music, will perform on Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. at the IU Auditorium. Earthy rhythms, rich harmonies, a capella renditions and charismatic performances will combine to uplift the soul and celebrate the spirit of South Africa. The concert also features traditional dancers and drummers and a dynamic four-piece band.

With the exception of the concert by the Soweto Gospel Choir, Black History Month events are free and open to the public. Tickets to the choir concert range from $11 to $32 and are available from the IU Auditorium Ticket Office and TicketMaster locations. For more information, call 812-855-1103 or go online to

Leading up to the choir's concert on Feb. 26 will be an annual celebration of art, music and dancing -- the Africana Festival.

Oyibo Afoaku, director of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, said the term "Africana" refers to the rich diversity of all people of African descent, Africans on the continent and Africans around the world. "The Africana Festival therefore is an inclusive program. It is even more relevant today because of ongoing efforts to improve race relations in our community through programs that are inclusive, informative and positive," she said.

Most festival events will take place in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 1-4:30 p.m. They will include children's activities and crafts, multicultural information booths and a leadership panel presentation. A drumming workshop will take place, 7-8:30 p.m., in the building's dance studio.

Jim Sims, a Bloomington community leader and member of the IU Bloomington Professional Council, will speak at 2 p.m. on the topic, "Why or Why Not Do African Americans Participate in Public Community Activities?"

Tickets for a soul food buffet dinner that evening in Alumni Hall of the Indiana Memorial Union, 900 E. Seventh St., are $13 for adults and $5 for students, children and seniors. Dinner tickets must be purchased by 5 p.m. on Feb. 16 at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. For more information, call 812-855-9271.

The Africana Festival is being presented by the African American Arts Institute, Auxiliary Services and Programs, the Dean of Faculties Office, International Programs, the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, Monroe County Community School Corp., the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center and NMBCC Facilities Coordinator.

Below is a list of other Black History Month events:

  • Annual Black Knowledge Bowl, on Feb. 16 from 7-10 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the Neal-Marshall Center.
  • A student retreat, "Diverse Voices of Leadership," on Feb. 24 from 7-9 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the Neal-Marshall Center.
  • The Third Annual African American Read-In on Monday (Feb. 7) from 10-11:15 a.m. at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.

The School of Education will host the read-in, which is part of a national effort. IU Bloomington faculty and students will join local high school students in reading their own original works, as well as selected poems and passages by African American authors. In conjunction with the read-in, School of Education Project TEAM participants and other IUB student leaders will participate in a peer panel discussion to share their college experiences with area high school students.

The read-in is part of the 16th National African American Read-In Chain sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English. For more information, contact organizer Stephanie Carter, assistant professor in language education, at 812-856-8265 or or go on the Web to