Gert Town residents got in formation at their community center for Black History Month to learn how “Dance is Liberation” as they explored the history of dance, its technical terms, and how it can help them unwind and de-stress from the pressures of everyday life. The danced to R&B and second line music at this Black History Month event held on Feb. 25, 2019.
“Dance has a purpose. It serves as a means of extending the culture’s traditions,” said Kamili Nilata, the instructor and host of “Dance is Liberation.”
During the group discussion before the dance activity, the participants stated that dance made them feel free, energetic, and alive. The dancing activity allowed all to “get loose” and express themselves. These events also help raise awareness about the Xavier University Outreach Center and its purpose of inclusiveness to support the community that surround the campus.
“We do have free events like this where it is informational, and we have professionals here, all around here, from the community where you can connect,” said Tierra Harrison, a Xavier graduate student who coordinates events at the center. “The main goal for the public to know about the event is letting them know we are here, and that this outreach center is here for the community,” Harrison added.
The event held a deeper meaning than its title. The liberation series aims to provide a wider understanding of what liberation can mean for the African American community. Liberation is not just from oppression, but from economic burdens and social injustice. Participants said they came to de-stress from multiple forms of oppression in their everyday lives by listening to music, and socializing with others as a break from the demands of the work week. The overall goal of the liberation series, organizers said, was to help residents move towards enlightenment, feel empowerment, and feel liberation from their economic hardships
Some of the other goals of this program and the Outreach Center are to help provide emergency funding, tutoring, and to host farmer’s markets and more. “We also provide health fairs so we have the college of pharmacy clinical doctoral students to come and do health assessments,” said Cirecie A. West-Olatunji, an associate professor at Xavier, who serves as the executive director of the center. “We’re about to offer a red box. This is a food pantry that’s 24/7 and it’s going to be placed over by the new police station. And it’s open 24/7, so anyone can just come get non-perishable food, they can also leave food, but they can also get food and it’s for anyone at all,” Olatunji added.
The next topic in the liberation series is “Food is Liberation.” Different types of food, and the culture of food, among other topics will be the subject of the next installment of the liberation series where residents can find other ways to empower their lives and find support.