Unity, hope and renewal are themes of 2nd annual event

The event's special guest was a 'conscientious' hip-hop group from St. Louis.
YOUNGSTOWN -- "There is hope in a time of hopelessness. We want to bring hope to our inner cities," the Rev. Sylvia Jennings said during the African Culture Fest Saturday at the Mill Creek Community Center.
The Rev. Ms. Jennings is president and founder of the Marcus Garvey Empowerment and Enrichment Association, which hosted the second annual African Culture Fest.
The festival was held in conjunction with the Youngstown State University Africana Studies Program and The Buckeye Review.
"The whole goal of this is to bring people together and not just here, but across the country," Ms. Jennings said.
The theme of this year's event was "Preserving our Youth for Challenges of the Future."
"If our young men and women know who they are, know who their ancestors were, I think that their futures would be a lot better," Ms. Jennings said.
Food and festivals
The African Culture Fest included more than 25 vendors selling food, books, apparel and art. A solidarity parade, a Kuumbaa festival and a gospel festival were held to celebrate the African culture.
At noon, there was an African drum call and an oath to African ancestors, after which Ms. Jennings led the crowd in singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing."
"We want to celebrate African contributions to the world," Jennings said. "Our goal is to teach African culture and history."
The Young Messengerrzz, from St. Louis, were the special guests.
"We came in to support the activities and celebration of the African Culture Fest," Darren Douglas, aka "The Professor," said. "We are a conscientious hip-hop group, so we are all working together."
He and his brother, Christopher, aka "Young Mozart," formed the two-person hip-hop group 13 years ago in St. Louis. They began performing when they were 11 and 13 years old, respectively.
Their appearance in the African Culture Fest was their second visit to Youngstown.
"Conscientious hip-hop is about being conscientious on all levels," Darren Douglas said.
"It's about the social, political, historical and spiritual levels," Christopher said. "Especially the spiritual level."
The African Culture Fest was held this weekend to celebrate Marcus Garvey's Aug. 17 birthday. Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association, which promoted equality among races.
"We don't want to be given anything," Ms. Jennings said. "Just allow us to have the opportunity. We just want the playing field to be level."

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