Westbury Arts presented its fourth annual Black History Month celebration on Feb. 1 at the Church of the Advent in Westbury. This engaging and inspiring program, called “Sankofa,” thrilled the standing room-only crowd with music, dancing, storytelling and more.
Westbury Arts Board Member and mistress of ceremonies, Patricia Jenkins Lewis, transported the audience of more than 200 people on a journey through Black culture and history. The walls of Winthrop Hall were adorned with traditional fabrics and artwork arranged by Lewis and her team of volunteers.
After warm welcomes by Pastor Eddie Allyne and Westbury Arts President Julie Lyon, the entire audience rose to sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” based on a poem by famed writer James Weldon Johnson.
Next, Eric Julian Emmanuel Oduro read his poem, “A Child of Progression.” His words captured the essence of the Sankofa theme, focusing on the importance of reaching back to knowledge gained in the past and bringing it to the present, in order to make positive progress.
The performing acts moved the audience with rhythm and emotion. They included the award-winning and nationally-recognized Uniondale High School Rhythm of the Knight Show Choir, African Dance and Drumming by Danse Xpressions, Liturgical Dance by the Praise Dancers from Shiloh Church of Rockville Center, and “Steppin’” by Omega Psi Phi. Joysetta Pearse, co-founder of the African-Atlantic Genealogical Society of Long Island shared stories from the past as fuel to inspire the current generation.
Lyon said, “This event is the first in our Diversity Series entitled ‘Out of Many-One’ that includes celebrations for Black History Month, Women’s History Month, LGBTQ Pride Month and Hispanic Heritage Month.”
She thanked the Church of the Advent and Reverend Eddie Allyne for the use of the space and the Islamic Center of Long Island for their generous sponsorship of the event.
“Thank you to Mayor Peter Cavallaro and the Village of Westbury Department of Public Works for supplying extra chairs for this event,” Lyon continued. “The village supports us in so many ways and we just can’t thank them enough.”
Lyon also thanked Jean Angel Campbell “for her generous donation of books” and Patricia Jenkins Lewis “for pretty much single-handedly putting this event together. And thank you to all of our volunteers for their generous donation of time and effort to cook and set up and help in the many ways that they do.”
The event was funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by the Huntington Arts Council.
Westbury Arts is a nonprofit organization committed to attracting, developing, and promoting art and culture throughout the community.
For more information, visit www.westburyarts.org.
—Submitted by Westbury Arts