This weekend, more than 100 undergraduates from African and Caribbean student groups throughout the Midwest will gather at Grinnell College for the student-run Eighth Annual Umoja Conference, April 27–29.
Grinnell’s African and Caribbean Students Union (ACSU) is hosting this year’s event, and are invites the public to attend some of the conference events on Saturday, April 28:
- Explore what it means to be of diasporic black identity in 21st-century America with keynote speaker Kobina Aidoo. Aidoo will facilitate a discussion of African migration to America after screening The Neo-African Americans, his thought-provoking documentary, at 2:15 p.m. in Harris Center Cinema.
- Enjoy traditional West African drumming and dance techniques with black American interpretations performed by Voice of Culture Drum and Dance Company at 7:30 p.m. in Bucksbaum's Sebring-Lewis Hall.
- Root for your favorite group in Umoja’s traditional interschool dance competition. Entries are judged on creativity, choreography, crowd appeal, and ties to African or Caribbean culture. The competition follows the dance performance in Sebring-Lewis Hall.
Grinnell College students are also invited to the blackout dance party in Gardner Lounge that evening — a great chance to meet students from Carleton, Macalester, Lawrence, Drake, and several other schools.
ACSU’s theme for this year’s conference is ubuntu, the celebrated Bantu philosophy — “I am who I am because of who we all are.” ACSU explains that “the conference is intended to promote unity among the black student diaspora in the Midwest.” The conference includes academic workshops as well as large and small group activities and opportunities to socialize and celebrate shared heritage.
ACSU’s contributions on campus include bringing speakers to campus, hosting study breaks and game nights, and providing a dessert reception for students of African and Caribbean heritage during new-student days. Last fall, the group hosted a blackout party charity event on campus that raised more than $1,000 for the Women’s Resource and Outreach Center in Kingston, Jamaica.
The group meets at 9 p.m. each Tuesday in the Rosenfield Center Multicultural Suite. ACSU is open to all students with an interest in African and Caribbean culture, not just those of African or Caribbean descent.