Harambee shares African culture with Taft students for Black History Month

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Loud beats of a drum, dancing and chants emanated from the Taft Elementary’s gymnasium Friday morning as Harambee of Youngstown performed as part of the Black History Month celebration.

The dance group, which has been in existence for more than 40 years, shows off the history, heritage, culture and pride of African people, said group leader Lynette Miller.

“We need to celebrate our heritage and understand we are African people and Africa is our homeland,” she said. “We need to celebrate and take pride in where we came from.”

Harambee’s other dedication is to teach love.

“The group has pride in themselves and teaches our children love of others,” Miller said. “We are about teaching young people to love themselves because they can only love others if they love themselves.”

Mary Boyd, Taft social worker, said it’s about celebrating different cultures.

“We are celebrating our second annual black history program at Taft,” she said. “It’s important we recognize all cultures ... at different times of the year.”

The reason is respect: “We want our students to be exposed and to learn to respect everybody,” Boyd said.

Dancer Ashauntae Jones said she enjoys being a part of Harambee of Youngstown.

“It’s a good experience,” she said. “You never meet people that care about you like this and make a group into a family.”

Tylor Chatman agreed.

“It’s like instead of doing something with your time that’s negative, you’re doing something positive,” she said.

Fourth-grader Kyla Monthomery said she liked the beat.

“It’s good dancing, and I like the colors,” she said.

Jkaylien Brown, also a fourth-grader, most loved the dancing and the music.

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