Kuumba Festival Reclaims Culture; Event Highlights Black Art, Music

Article excerpt

Byline: John Carter, Staff writer

One of the city's oldest celebrations of African-American culture continues today and tomorrow at A. Philip Randolph Park.

The 16th annual Kuumba African Cultural Arts and Music Fest features hundreds of craft and food vendors, performing artists and the dance, music, poetry and food of African and Caribbean culture. The work of dozens of African-American visual artists will also be exhibited at the park, 1096 E. First St.

Kuumba (pronounced Koo-oom-bah) is derived from the Kwanzaa principle of "creativity," said Shadidi Bryant, who founded the event held annually on the Memorial Day Weekend.

She said one idea for the event -- and this year's theme -- is reclamation of African cultural ideals, customs and history.

"I always thought it was important for us as African-Americans to reclaim our spiritual heritage," Bryant said. "There is a common cultural link to most of the African countries. We particularly want to focus on concepts of family, of God, of relationships and of creation, of the importance of life."

She said she also wanted to create a venue where African-American artists could display their work.

"I used to paint a lot as a teenager," she said. "There weren't that many places where works with African-American themes could be exhibited. I wanted to come up with ways to help African-American art gain more exposure. …