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2007 Unity Banquet Embraces Streets, Service and Style

The eleventh annual Carter G. Woodson Unity Banquet was held on February 17, hosted by the Black Cultural Center. This year’s theme, A Message in the Movement: From the Streets to the Beats, was conveyed through student led performances, a guest speaker and the presentation of service awards to exceptional African American students at Berea.

Amon Rashidi addresses at the 2007 Unity Banquet.

An exciting and eclectic assortment of performances accompanied the dinner, which hosted more than 125 prospective college students. The night’s guest speaker was Mr. Amon Rashidi, a community and political activist who serves as founder and director of the national non-profit organization Project J.A.M.S. located in east Texas. The facility serves as rural haven for gang members to escape the gang lifestyle in a safe environment.

Marcus Elston, a Berea alumnus who talks to youth at the J.A.M.S. campsite, introduced Rashidi and welcomed him to Berea. In his address, Rashidi acknowledged the tremendous impact of drugs, violence and AIDS on the black community and the glorification of violence within the hip-hop industry. The audience listened intently to Rashidi’s message on the statistics of crime within the black community and its outcome. In closing, Rashidi warned the audience, loudly saying, “You are doomed to repeat your past, if you don’t know your history!”

“I thought the message was profound,” said Nick Citizen, a junior. “He found a unique way to convey his message to both college and perspective students.”

On a more positive note, the distinguished Carter G. Woodson student service awards were presented to four outstanding Berea students for their work in service and leadership. The night’s award recipients were senior Olatunde Oluyitan, junior Geri Guy, sophomore Amanda Lucas and freshman Christopher Perkins.

“I plan to participate in a service trip to New Orleans in March,” said Oluyitan, explaining his plans for the future. “I also want to urge students to take an initiative and give back to their communities.”

Additional events that evening included performances by Berea’s step team, a fashion show led by junior Vincent Stevens, a dance routine by junior Valton Jackson and sophmore Debra Bulluck, singing by sophmore Djuan Trent and and a performance of "The Negro National Anthem" sung by freshman Ola Ajao.

For more information on Black Cultural Center events, visit the at Black Cultural Center's Web site.

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