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African American Heritage Festival

April 29, 2012

Ohio State's African American Heritage Festival has been a spring quarter tradition for 34 years.

In 1978, African American students wanted to celebrate their cultural heritage while embracing their role as part of the Buckeye family.

They founded the African American Heritage Festival--and 34 years later, the week-long event remains a strong spring quarter tradition at Ohio State.

"It started because African American students were increasing their presence on campus and wanted to have something that represented them culturally, but also this notion of what it means to be a part of The Ohio State University family," says Davida Haywood, director of Ohio State's Multicultural Center.

It's grown into what President E. Gordon Gee calls "one of the great traditions at Ohio State, over the years becoming an integral part of the fabric of our campus life."

"I look forward to attending several events this year, as the Ohio State community joins together in this student-led celebration of culture," President Gee says.

Haywood says the festival is one of the oldest student-organized events on campus. In keeping with this year's theme--Msisimko, the Swahili word for passion--the Multicultural Center is using the festival as an opportunity to ask students questions about what drives them.

"What we've been asking students is, 'What is your passion? What are you passionate about?'" Haywood says. "We want them to be passionate about the things that are happening around them."