Griot Institute hosts opening event for fall semester

Genevieve Block, Contributing Writer

The Griot Institute for Africana Studies hosted their annual opening event from 12-2 p.m. on Aug. 25 with performances by the Soul in Motion African Dance and Drum Ensemble and the Bisonettes on the Science Quad.

For almost 10 years, the Griot Institute for Africana Studies has welcomed students, faculty, and the Lewisburg community to campus for their opening event. The purpose of the event is not only to celebrate the beginning of the school year, but also to start off the semester on a positive note by encouraging a community founded on diversity and inclusion.

“Hopefully, the opening event is a visual and experiential reminder of the wide array of different kinds of individuals who constitute the University community, and highlights the significant presence and contributions of people from and descended from Africa and the African diaspora to the University,” Director of the Griot Institute and Professor of English Carmen Gillespie said prior to the performance. “We hope to alert the community to the complexities of the University’s many stories and specifically, to let people know about events the Griot has planned for the year, as well as introducing the calendars and staffs of the other diversity entities and organizations on campus.”

The Soul in Motion performers sang, danced, drummed, and even encouraged participation from the audience by bringing their instruments into the crowd. The group originated in 1984 in Rockville, Md. and is a returning performer at the University. Members of the surrounding Lewisburg community as well as professors, students, and staff gathered around the Science Quad to listen to their music.

“It shows the importance of community of campus. [The performers] going out into the audience and connecting with a diverse group of people is what it’s all about,” Maya McKeever ’21 said.

“This is a great event that you have here and that’s why we are so excited to be here and to have been invited back. For those students who are new coming into campus, we are welcoming you as well as the new year,” Michael Friend, artistic director of Soul in Motion, said.

“Saturday was a beautiful day, and we had a very nice crowd for the opening event! It was great to see both familiar and new faces!” Michelle Lauver, administrative assistant for the Griot Institute, said. “I think those present took a step toward understanding more about African dancing and drumming. The Griot Institute staff is very grateful to those who were able to participate and attend.”

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