Diaspora 2018: A Colorful Celebration of African Heritage in Annapolis

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Deonte Ward and Adetola Ajayi of BWSA with Diva DaVoice and William Rowel
Deonte Ward and Adetola Ajayi of BWSA with Divaa Davoice and William Rowel

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Slide show and feature photos by Christian Smooth of Smooth House Productions.

On Saturday, February 24, Black Wall Street Annapolis presented their second annual African Heritage and Black History Celebration #Diaspora2018. The Event was held at the Pip Moyer Recreation Center. The event marks BWSA’s Black History Month Celebration and the two year anniversary celebration of the formation of Black Wall Street Annapolis, co-founded by Deonte Ward and Adetola Ajayi. BWSA uses proceeds generated from events like Diaspora as fundraisers for their social enterprise of creating active business communities. Instead of waiting for governmental officials or grant funding, they offer low-cost or scholarship-accessible empowerment programs and workshops for youths and adults.

They are currently raising funds to expand their Black Xcel Youth Entrepreneurship Camp and their Know Better Due Better Recidivism Initiative across Annapolis City and Anne Arundel County.
The event was an eclectic mix of Afro Americana art, culture, fashion, food, and music.  The event was hosted by radio and TV personality Divaa DaVoice, and co-hosted by William Rowel of the City of Annapolis. Annapolis’s own DJ Pops kept the crowd moving, mixing music from Africa, the Caribbean, and modern Black music. There were performances by awesome young talent, including local youth entertainer Dylan Gilmer who has appeared on Ellen, Eli the young crooner who is also a multi-instrumentalist, and the Divas Dance And Cheer Squad.
The event also showcased empowerment speakers such as local activist Baron Bell, Independent Financial Service Sales representative James Henson, and Austin Brown of Global Air Media, who performed a drone presentation that left the crowd shocked. There was also a young Black professionals panel featuring Dajuan Gay (former Aldermanic candidate), Tierra Smith (interior designer) and Amy Jackson (realtor), in which the audience was tasked to engage the panel on topics such as education, entrepreneurship, and elections.
The highlights of the night were the art, fashion, and photo exhibits that transformed a brightly lit auxiliary gym into a modern art loft; photos of Old Annapolis on easels in the back were provided by The Annapolis Collection Gallery. #ThisIsNewtowne Photo was part of the dining table displays for guest. Two powerful collage paintings by Jeff Huntington of Future History Now, depicted Huey P Newton and Muhammad Ali and flanked the podium, acting as the speakers’ backdrop. Hidden in the corner was a collection of Modern Africa Paintings and other contemporary African art mediums including pottery, wood carvings, and figurines. At random moments during the event, models of all ages strutted in between performers and speakers, wearing bright and brilliant traditional African garments from Ghana and Nigeria. At the end of the show, all the models held hands with all the hosts, who were dressed in traditional African wears as well, and raised their hands to celebrate a job well done. Black Wall Street Annapolis will be launching their Bigger Than Me Feed the Homeless initiative Sunday, March 4 from the Historic Peerless Rens Social Club. To find out how to support BWSA or for more information about their Black Xcel or Know Better Due Better Programs, contact blackwallstreetannapolis@gmail.com
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Richard W. Right is a writer, father and activist in Anne Arundel County.
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