Penn State Lehigh Valley students celebrate African American History Month

Emily Collins
February 21, 2017

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Students celebrated African American History Month with Karen Smith and the Friendship Ensemble on Feb. 14 at the Lehigh Valley campus. Smith and her team — Baba Tyrone Davis, Ali Richardson and Sanchel Brown — interacted with students, faculty and staff in Centre Hall by singing, playing instruments and dancing.

Angela Jeon-Hung, global education and inclusive excellence consultant at Penn State Lehigh Valley, organized this event as part of the “All In at Penn State” initiative.

“Penn State Lehigh Valley has approximately 36 percent multilingual and multicultural students from various backgrounds,” said Jeon-Hung. “The celebration brought students of all backgrounds together.”

This event took place during common hour in order to reach the most people. Students were able to stay for the whole hour or just walk by and participate for a few minutes.

“The purpose behind not having an RSVP was to encourage students to flow and engage naturally in learning African-American history through dancing, storytelling and drumming,” said Jeon-Hung. 

Once students saw what was going on, it did not take long for them to get involved. Students lined up to take photos and be a part of the celebration. Karen Smith and The Friendship Ensemble taught students about traditional instruments and dancing; about different forms of music such as the blues; and allowed students to express themselves using these methods. People gathered throughout the hour to learn the dances, to play the drums and to even create their own blues songs.

Many students who were just walking to class stopped and jumped in the line to dance and enjoy themselves. They were taught step-by-step moves to various dances and were able to perform their dances to the drums and music.

The event ended with a hip-hop, spiritual song called, “Ain’t No Stopping You.”  

“All In at Penn State” is an ongoing University-wide initiative that brings students, faculty and staff together to show their commitment to cultivating a diverse and inclusive environment — respectful of everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, abilities, background, veteran’s status and political beliefs.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 16, 2017