Akron African American Cultural Association

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OUR STORY

The AAACA was actualized as early as 1978, participating in the Saturday Community School that met in East Hall, in the offices of the Black Cultural Center on the University of Akron Campus. The initial mission of AAACA was to work with youth. Early members, John Fuller, Isatou Sagnia, Fred Johnson, Sondra Bryant, Juaniki Stiggers, Nellie Tukufu, and others were educators that saw the need to educate youth about the role of African-Americans in world history. The School was financed by members, individually contributing their expertise in education, the arts and music/dance/ martial arts. Local activists and University of Akron students served as teaching assistants.

Other activities included the sponsoring of forums, held on Malcolm X’s birthday. Dr. Naim Akbar, (University of Florida) was the first keynote speaker for those forums. In 1980, the organizers worked closely with the University of Akron’s Black Cultural Center, other community organizations such as the Akron Black Political Assembly, East Akron Community House, City of Akron councilman, Dr. Vernon Sykes to organize the first African American Cultural Festival & Parade. The Festival continues to provide a space for the appreciation of African culture, it is celebrated in July, and is in its 30th year.

The AAACA also sponsored tours to Ohio based historical black sites such as the Paul Lawrence Dunbar House in Dayton, organized a bus trip to Detroit to see Nelson Mandela of South Africa and supported rites-of-passage activities for youth and adults. Activities were supported with individual donations and fundraisers.

To enhance more effective fundraising, the AAACA was created. It obtained 501 c 3 status in 1994 In the 1990s, AAACA has collaborated with Akron Public Schools, and other faith based organizations to support lectures by Dr. Malauna Karenga, (creator of Kwanzaa), Dr. Charles Finch, III, (medical historian), Dr. Mwalimu Sujaa (educator). Today, the AAACA supports and facilitates the creation of yearly Kwanzaa Celebrations, moving them from house-based, in the 1980s to organizationally based, where organizations take responsibility for implementing a night of the celebration.

The AAACA also continues to support the Akron African-American Cultural Festival& Parade process and offer speakers on African history, culture, and the arts. It also presents lectures on women, culture and empowerment to incarcerated youth and adults in Ohio.