Yoruban chants and the pounding of African drums announced the arrival of the newly-formed Dayton Africana Elders Council at EboNia Gallery on Monday evening.
Fifteen community leaders were inducted into the council during a special ceremony at the gallery on 1135 W. Third Street.
The elders council is made up of men and women who are elders of the African-American or African community. These elders are rooted in the seven principles of Kwanzaa and designed to promote the well being of the African-American and African communities.
Council inductees must have more than 30 years of leadership experience within their community to be considered for nomination, said Marlon Shackelford, coordinator of the Dayton African American Cultural Festival, the non-profit organization that hosted Monday’s event.
“One of the reasons why the council of elders is important is that we honestly feel that our elders are not being respected in our community,” Shackelford said. “The problem with that is that the elders have the most wisdom, they have the most knowledge and more importantly, they have the most common sense.”
The inductees at Monday’s ceremony included Jessie Gooding, former president of the Dayton NAACP; Mweusi Chui, community leader; Margaret Peters, historian and retired Dayton Public School teacher; Ahminullah Ahmad, community leader; Willis Bing Davis, artist and owner of EbonNia Gallery; Richard Clay Dixon, former Dayton Mayor; Pastor Robert Jones of College Hill Community Church, Nozipo Glenn, community leader; Don Black, publisher and founder of Dayton Weekly News; Pastor William Schooler of St. Peters Missionary Baptist Church; Greer Stanford-Randle, community leader; Dr. Morris Brown, Boikai Twe, chairperson of Pyschology and African American Studies at Sinclair Community College; David Greer, chairperson for Dayton’s Northwest Priority Board and Dayton City Commission candidate; and Annette McGee-Wright, a Montgomery County magistrate and daughter of Dayton’s first black Mayor James H. McGee.
Greer said he was honored by the recognition. “Your peers and your elders are recognizing you for what you do and they are taking you into their fold of eldership. That is a very prestigious level,” he said.
Twe said the role of the elders will be to strive toward cooperation between the elders and the youth in the community.
“This is something that I strive to do because I realized that even as an adult, you still need young people and their energy. Particularly, to achieve a lot of what you are going to do in the community,” he said. “I’m happy to be on the council and promote that intergenerational relationship between the youth and the elders.”
Each inductee was given a special name or title that they will be referred to as a member of the council. They also received a physical artifact that symbolized their connection to their history and future and as a sign of a authority and respect.
The ceremony also featured a performance by Kuumba, a Dayton-based drama, drum and dance company.
The elders induction was a kick-off event for the Dayton African-American Cultural Festival, which will be from noon to 8p.m. Saturday at Riverscape MetroPark, 11 E. Monument Ave. and noon to 6 p.m. at the Harvard Campus of the Omega Baptist Church, 1810 Harvard Boulevard.
This year’s festival theme is “It’s a Family Affair. Culture Matters.” Admission fee is $5 for both days.
Shackelford, who also is a motivational speaker and street advocate for the Community Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence, told the audience at Monday’s induction ceremony that it is going to take a community effort to make sure the cultural festival continues in upcoming years.
Shackelford later told the Dayton Daily News that the in-kind funding that the DAACF received from Five Rivers MetroParks will be cut next year. “So we now have to raise the money from our own community,” he said.
The festival will end with a premiere viewing of a movie called “Big Words” at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Neon Movies, 130 E. Fifth St. This event is in partnership with the 2013 FilmDayton Festival. For more information about the movie, visit www.bigwordsthemovie.com.
Other festival highlights include food, an African Village, live music, storytelling, art, health screenings and opportunities to purchase merchandise.
Saturday’s festival events are occurring the same day as the National Action Network’s Washington, D.C. event to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Approximately 250,000 came to the D.C. march, which occurred Aug. 28, 1963 on the National Mall. The historic march was a catalyst to congress passing the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts.
The Dayton Unit NAACP is sponsoring an overnight bus trip to Saturday’s anniversary march. However, those who cannot attend are encouraged to join several local organizations in an anniversary march that will begin 2 p.m. Saturday at Dave Hall Plaza near Fifth and Jefferson Streets and end at Riverscape during the cultural festival.
“We wanted to do something for people who couldn’t afford the march,” said Rev. Crystal Walker, executive director of the Greater Dayton Christian Connections.
The organizations sponsoring Saturday’s local march include Dayton International Peace Museum, Dayton Dialogue on Race Relations, Interfaith Forum of Greater Dayton, Dayton Unit NAACP, National Conference for Community and Justice of Greater Dayton, SCLC-Dayton chapter, and the Adam Project.
For more information about the DAEC or the cultural festival, contact DAACF coordinators at 475-2707 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.daacf.com.
For more information about Saturday’s anniversary march, call 222-4322 or email email@example.com.