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Sankofa Festival

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Black History Month is almost here, and the Indiana State Museum is offering an exciting and fun way to celebrate the heritage of African-Americans.

For the second year, the State Museum will present its annual Sankofa Black Heritage Festival, which will take place on Feb. 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the museum, 650 W. Washington St. The event is free with general admission.

Sankofa is a one-day, annual event done in conjunction with Black History Month. Its programming celebrates West African as well as Hoosier African-American art, history and culture.

“Many people, especially families and parents with children, are looking for platforms in the community to celebrate African-American history and culture, and Sankofa does that,” said Bruce Williams, director of multicultural audiences for the State Museum.

Williams explained that the name “Sankofa” is an Accan word from West Africa, or the Ivory Coast, from where a vast majority of slaves were taken.

Sankofa even goes further than many Black history programs by focusing not just on Indiana’s African-American heritage, but also focuses on the culture of West Africa and therefore, the beginnings of African-American history.

“This approach takes us back historically to a time when slaves were brought from the Ivory Coast of Africa and taken through the Middle Passage into various parts of America, including North America. There are a lot of people in Indianapolis who have connections to the Ivory Coast.”

During Sankofa, performance-based arts closely align with Black History Month themes that explore the African-American experience, both past and present. African-American families, businesses, social and civic organizations, students and educators will be targeted.

Sankofa will begin with its Singsation! segment in the Great Hall from 10 a.m. to noon, which will feature inspirational and spiritually uplifting music directed by gospel recording artist Napoleon Williams, and featuring a broad repertoire of traditional and contemporary gospel music by some of Central Indiana’s best ensembles.

Other features will include the Sankofa Community Reading Chain presented by IndyReads, Inc., which will feature community leaders reading passages from the children’s book, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale, written by John Steptoe.

Julian Grace of WISH-TV (Channel 8) will host the Singsation segment. In addition, guests will be able to see a film in the Indiana State Museum’s Legacy Theater about African American inventors.

Participants will also be able to benefit from the Community Organization Fair, which will include fascinating, fun and helpful information about more than 20 local businesses and organizations, such as historically Black fraternities and sororities, colleges and universities, the Links, United Way of Central Indiana, the Indianapolis chapter of Indiana Black Expo, Asante Children’s Theatre, Comcast, Indianapolis Urban Theatre & Dance, The National Council of Negro Women, African Community International and many others.

“We encourage everyone to come out and join us for Sankofa,” said Katy Creagh, school programs developer for the Indiana State Museum. “It’s not only a great way to experience what the museum has to offer during Black History Month, but to also enjoy some great African dance, drumming and art and get some helpful information from outstanding community organizations.”

For more information about the Sankofa Black Heritage Festival, visit Indianastatemuseum.org or call (317) 232-1637.

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