An African American experience

William T

William T. Robinson, Jr.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I find it rewarding and exciting when I expand my knowledge and experience. Learning more about the culture, art, and traditions of different groups and ethnicities. As an American I am interesting in acknowledging and appreciating the different cultures making up this rich tapestry of diverse people, I feel proud to call my brothers and sisters.

Learning more about different ethnicities, is my way in being vested in the communities making up the city and state where I live. I feel it helps one become more appreciative to the beauty and intriguing attributes of those making up your community and other communities surrounding you. I can’t help but to feel, that this view is shared by a majority of the people making up this city.

The joy and appreciation of sharing in partaking in another’s culture and traditions creates a bond that brings people closer together. It is likening to coming out of a shell and learning a whole new world exists with captivating horizons to be explored. It uncovers our differences while bringing to light our commonalities.

I find that Nashville is noted for inviting its citizens and friends to many venues celebrating different cultures, ethnicities and nationalities. Such examples include: Italian Lights, the Germantown Festival, and the African Street Festival. Each event invites its participants to divulge in native foods, entertainment, the arts, and a festive camaraderie. No doubt, cultural events attribute to Nashville being dubbed, ‘The It City.’

As an African American, I am particularly excited with the coming of the African Street Festival, set September 22-24, and held at Hadley Park. The times will be Friday from 6-8 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11 am-9 pm. This is the 35th year for this event highlighting the beauty, history, and gifts of those of African American ancestry. This event, like others celebrating culture, introduces celebrants to a plethora of food, art, and entertainment. Participants will be privy to art shows, African art exhibits, African dance, health walks, a bike repair clinic, and exposure to Nashville’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.

Ironic as it may be, it is instrumental in exposing many African Americans to their own history, art and African culture—features that may be new to them because of their involvement in what many feel to be an Eurocentric-driven, monopolized and controlled society. This makes the experience all the more rewarding and celebratory when African Americans as well as others see the unique and enlightening vestiges of African heritage that is presented. It is an extraordinary learning experience that everyone will enjoy and hopefully never forget.

Exposure to such a distinctive, dynamic, and animated culture leaves one with a hunger for more. The event serves as an educational tool in that an abundance of African history and literature is available. It also offers a multitude of ethnic cuisines to satisfy anyone’s palate. Observers will be entertained with African dance, the spoken word, and music covering a multitude of genres, including: Jazz, Blues, Reggae, Gospel, Soul, and R&B.

One of the most important benefits of the event is that it allows young and old members of the community to come together to embrace and share their talents and gifts. Children will have an opportunity to compete in an African spelling bee and listen to storytellers in the Children’s Pavilion. There will be 150 international vendors accommodating those attending.

African Americans will depart with a greater appreciation of who they are and what they bring to the table. Other groups will leave in awe of the artistic and creative genius they have been exposed to, as well as a newfound respect for African Americans and their traditions and culture.

You will be doing yourself and your family and friends a great injustice if you don’t make it a priority to attend the African Street Festival. The theme this year is ‘Strengthening the Family.’ So come one, come all. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Parking and admission is free and it will be handicap accessible with valet golf cart rides. Let’s help make this the best and biggest attended African Street Festival.