Dublin VAMC hold Black History Month Cultural Festival
by James W. Huckfeldt
Black History Month is observed every February and the Dublin VA Medical Center held a festival celebrating the wide variety of Black history on Feb. 24, from noon to 4 p.m. in their Main Auditorium. The four-hour celebration showcased African head wrappings, drums, dancing, apparel, food tasting, and a keynote speaker, Chaplain Donald Retemiah, who shared his stories from his life in Guyana.
“We have to remember that Black history is American history, and this is an opportunity to share the wide spectrum of diversity observed with Veterans, staff, and our community,” said Dublin VAMC Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Specialist and U.S. Air Force Veteran Marcia Morris. “Veterans are a significantly diverse demographic, and our goal is to educate people so they can take something meaningful away from our festival.”
Dublin VAMC Chaplain Donald Retemiah, a native of Guyana, a country in South America, shared some interesting facts about his native country. Did you know that Guyana is the least populated country in South America and is the only South American country that English is the primary language?
“Much of Guyana’s culture and traditions are adopted from the Caribbean and gained its independence in 1966,” said Chaplain Retemiah. “Approximately 80 percent of Guyana is covered by tropical rain forests, but also showcases fertile agricultural lands along with mineral resources to include bauxite and gold.”
After Chaplain Retemiah’s presentation, a cultural food tasting was offered including ox tails, Jamaican cooked cabbage, jerk chicken, collard greens, fried chicken, corn bread, and other soul food.
Performances included dances to such as the Charleston, Reggae, Maranga, Salsa, Modern, Jazz. A story telling Rhythm in Motion illustrated the story of dance in African American culture from West Africa to the United States from the transatlantic slave trade through the Harlem renaissance eras. An impressive show of African drumming had audience members’ feet tapping and head bopping along with the percussion rhythm. The festival concluded with a stilt walker and how that is a lost art in Black history.
Black history is American history and, what the festival showed, it’s a fun and engaging history, too.