By Cyrena Allen
Thousands of people converged on Cascades Park for the Florida A&M University (FAMU) fifth annual Harambee Festival Saturday.
Opening the eight-hour event, FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., urged attendees to celebrate but also to be active in the community through voting and civic involvement.
Festival goers were treated to live performances from Mapy, the Violin Queen, FAMU alumnus saxophonist BK Jackson, the Carnegie Hall-bound Hartsfield Elementary School choir, a fashion show, drummers and dancers and a spoken word poetry show.
Even as some enjoyed entertainment from the main stage, others perused the jewelry, art and clothing stalls from of the more than 60 vendors, many selling African-themed merchandise.
Offerings ranged from traditional African clothing such as dashiki’s and homemade waist beads, to homemade jewelry and graphic T-shirts. Many FAMU schools and colleges also shared information with parents and prospective students.
Under clear skies and sunshine, Cascades Park teemed with energy as students, Tallahasse residents and visitors explored vendor’s stalls or stood in line for food.
Local artist and vendor Kadija Christie owns of Art of Auset, an afrocentric art business.
“This will be my third year at Harambee. I usually do it every year and I’m going to always spend this time of year with my friend over here,” Christie said, pointing to Janelle’s Jewelry.
“It’s always exciting meeting different people of all different cultures and different backgrounds and just seeing all of the vendors just sharing their craft; it’s beautiful,” she added.
The Harambee Festival attracts people from North Florida and also Georgia. Artist Patrick Smiley owns Level3 Apparel, an graphic t-shirt and apparel stand based in Atlanta. He said the theme of his shirts is to uplift women and Black culture with phrases like “Respect is Melanin” and “Brown Skin Beauty.”
“This is my first time here; it has been cool, it’s a beautiful day,” said Smiley, who designs and prints his own shirts and travels to various events across Florida to show and sell his merchandise. “I will definitely be back.”
Quincy resident Linda Wood enjoyed herself at Harambee.
“I am having a blast,” she said. “There’s so many vendors, and food vendors, and so many artists we brought some oils and some earrings and some head wraps that I have never seen before.”
Erica Ingram, owner of heypaint tella, focuses on Black culture and connects to the younger generation through her paintings.
“I really like this event, “ Ingram said. “A lot of people come out to support it, so it’s a really good event.”