Three-day Tuscaloosa Heritage Festival kicks offBy Logan Doctson | 02/01/2018 1:48am
By Logan Doctson | Staff Reporter
This weekend, the Tuscaloosa community will have the opportunity to experience three days full of celebrating, promoting and learning about cultural diversity in West Alabama.
The Tuscaloosa Heritage Festival is a three-day festival consisting of various cultural events, including the Tuscaloosa Africana Film Festival. It's hosted by the West Alabama Multicultural Alliance, also known as WAMA, a non-profit organization with the goal of promoting the cultural heritages of all ethnicities throughout West Alabama.
The three day event commences tonight in Russell Hall Room 159 with a discussion of African film as part of the Tuscaloosa Africana Film Festival. There's also the "Showcase of Film, Dance & Music" event tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m. at the Tuscaloosa Career & Technology Academy. Finally, the screening portion of the Tuscaloosa Africana Film Festival will take place on Saturday, Feb. 3, at 6 p.m.
The purpose of WAMA is to promote a community where people of all ethnic backgrounds are celebrated and respected for their heritage and contributions made in West Alabama. The organization’s hope is for people to be informed about their heritage and make connections.
“West Alabama Multicultural Alliance is still in what I would like to call an infant stage because we have only been in existence a little under a year,” said Kevil Tice, the communications, information and technology chair for the organization. “2018 is the inaugural year for the Tuscaloosa Heritage Festival, so we are extremely excited about bringing this event to our city.”
Not only will the Tuscaloosa Heritage Festival celebrate and promote cultural diversity, but it also hopes to bring awareness to the African and black heritages within the Tuscaloosa community.
“I am overjoyed with the spirit of inclusiveness this event brings to our area and I believe festivals such as this are greatly necessary within every community,” Tice said. “We should all embrace our heritage, share the beauty of that heritage with others and learn to live in harmony even with all of our differences.”
Members of the Tuscaloosa community can also expect to learn about different heritages in the areas of music, film and dance. The festival revolves around the philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who advocated for a diverse community that's respectful and tolerant of everyone.
Tomorrow night's showcase will feature performances and screenings from various community groups.
According to Samyra Snoddy, the president of WAMA and organizer of the festival, the showcase will feature film clips from the UA Honors College and Lights Camera Alabama, as well as performances from local K-12 students, UA's Afro-American Choir, the local His Instrument of Praise dance group and the Stillman College choir and dancers.
Snoddy said she is most looking forward to seeing the youth and local students perform. Additionally, Marquis Wilson, a member of the Board of Directors for WAMA, said that he is looking forward to learning about all the different cultures within the Tuscaloosa community.
“My favorite part of the Tuscaloosa Heritage Festival will be seeing and learning about the different cultures that will be displayed during the event,” Wilson said. "When building relationships with individuals, it helps to have some informative insight and understanding of their culture.”
Lastly, the Tuscaloosa Heritage Festival has partnered with the Tuscaloosa Africana Film Festival. Sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and the African Students Association, the Tuscaloosa Africana Film Festival portion will be held tonight in Russell Hall Room 159 at The University of Alabama. This event is a workshop with the theme of “The Activist Filmmaker” and features Tyrik Washington, Emmy Award winner and producer of “Under the Heavens,” as a guest speaker. The screening portion of the festival is Saturday at the Bama Theatre.
“Through our families, organizations, institutions and neighborhoods, we do not have to isolate ourselves from those who are different from us,” Wilson said. “We can transform our community to be a better place to live and the Tuscaloosa Heritage Festival will be a great first step.”