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Montgomery College Excalibur

The Student News Site of Montgomery College

Montgomery College Excalibur

The Student News Site of Montgomery College

Montgomery College Excalibur

The African Heritage Month Draws in a Big Crowd

This fall, the 15-year anniversary of Montgomery County’s African Heritage Month drew in a crowd of over 145 people to a room of 126 seats.

William Jawando says a few words at the African Heritage Month Celebration Proclamation. (Photo credit, Blaize Krause)

On Sept. 5, the Office of Community Partnerships and the African Affairs Advisory Group (AAAG) held an annual celebration at the Silver Spring Civics Centre. According to the Montgomery County Council, African Heritage Month was introduced as a means to celebrate African influences on local and national communities.  

Among the crowd were local organizations such as African Tourism Union, African American Health Program, African Women Cancer Awareness Association, FAsMarketplace and Voice of Africa. Also in attendance was Montgomery County Executive, Marc Elrich, who shared some remarks, acknowledging the lack of conversation that surrounds the immense effort and struggle that the African community have to navigate in and out of America.

Marc Elrich speaks at the African Heritage Month Proclamation Celebration held at the Silver Spring Civic Building at Veterans Plaza on Sept. 5, 2023. (Photo credit, Blaize Krause)

“People who don’t know their history are condemned to repeat it,” said Elrich. “We’re not willing to get past our struggle, if we [as a whole], don’t talk about it”  

Elrich mentioned that Montgomery County had plans to fund events, groups and resources that will distribute food and clothing to African communities.   

“$20.000 for events, such as this,” said Elrich, presenting an opportunity to build a stronger economic foundation for the African community present in Montgomery County.  

Presented at the event was the application, AAAG Mobile App, which was created with the purpose to inform. According to Mansa Colabs, a consulting agency that presented the app at the event, its purpose is to bring awareness to business conducted within the African community.  

The app was highlighted as a tool for connection to those in and outside of the African community. To be featured in AAAG Mobile App is a tab updated with local news, meant to share and provide a resource for critical information and community events.

Panelists Ivo Tasong, Kadmiel Van Der Puije, Jewru Bandeh and Yoseph Zerihun (left to right) speak out at the African Heritage Month Proclamation Celebration. (Photo credit, Blaize Krause)

During the event there was a panel discussion consisting of seven people, who were tasked to focus on subjects such as education and future endeavors. Among the seven panelists was Kadmiel Van Der Puije, the founder of Voice of Africa, a media platform local to Maryland. Kadmiel spoke of his family and their experience as immigrants in America who constantly dealt with misconceptions of African culture.  

 “Why don’t we create an organization that gives people this information about what Africa’s all about,” said Van Der Puije. 

The need for connection was emphasized repeatedly, as well as the importance of reflection. Also among the seven panelists was Yoseph Zerihun, a Springbrook high school student and finalist for the 2023 election for student member of  Montgomery County’s Board of Education.

Yoseph Zerihun answers a question while putting his hand over his heart. (Photo credit, Blaize Krause)

“This is an incredible opportunity for me,” Zerihun said. ”This means so much to me because I’m proud of my African heritage, my Ethiopian heritage. Being offered to speak at something like this is just incredible and I hope, I’ve seen some people that have inspired me in my life, and I just hope to sort of keep the torch going and passing the torch to other young people.” 

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About the Contributors
Jada Hoffman
Jada Hoffman, Photographer and Staff Writer
Jada Hoffman joined The Excalibur as a photographer in the spring of 2022. She is based at the Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus and is completing her AA in aerospace engineering. She was the Photo Editor, managing photo editing and staff photography, for the Excalibur in the fall of 2022. She joined the Excalibur to expand her love for photography.
Blaize Krause
Blaize Krause, Former Photo Editor
Blaize Krause joined The Excalibur as a photographer in the fall of 2022. He is the Photo Editor, managing photo editing and staff photography, for the Excalibur in the spring of 2023. He is based at the Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus where he is completing his degree in general studies to become a Film maker. He joined the paper to attain his goal of becoming a better writer and photographer.

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    Rick StackDec 13, 2023 at 3:37 pm

    Informative article. Good to know this cause has been going strong for 15 years. Good to learn about the organizations that support the mission.