Conference: “Souls of Black Folk”

A gathering was held in Olympia on May 14-15 entitled “Conference for the Souls of Black Folk!” The conference focused on persons of African descent and welcomed persons of all ethnicities. Many others were drawn to the event, including Indigenous populations, Hispanics, Asians and more.

The large open floor space in the hall served as an excellent dance floor and dance teacher Karida Griffith gave an African Rhythms presentation that used dance as a vehicle to share Black history and its influence on modern culture. She demonstrated how rhythms and movements used in everyday life and work activities can become dance. She showed how a common parental hand tap on a child’s back could transfer into a rhythmic movement of her feet.

Tables were moved into the shape of a large horseshoe to accomodate a traditional Southern-style lunch catered by a local restaurant.

“We really enjoyed the African Rhythms presentation that used dance to share Black history and the influence on modern culture. Upon reflection, it was really inspiring to witness some of the activity, but the thing that stood out the most is the how much we as Americans do not have a good grasp on our history at all. Our communities need exposure to what has happened here in this country,” said James McGhee of Happy Valley, Oregon.

Another participant commented: “The conference prompted me to notice and examine my own reactions … I felt like I was holding a mirror up to myself to explore my internal dialogue and reactions. This was a positive experience.”

This conference was a marvelous start – a perfect beginning, and we look forward to many more gatherings and conferences on this theme in the future!