Exactly 250 years after Roots author Alex Haley’s ancestor arrived at Annapolis City Dock and was sold into slavery, the 28th Annual Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival was held in Susan Campbell Park. The free event took place on September 23, providing an opportunity for Maryland locals to celebrate their heritage, learn some history, and enjoy live music, dance, food, and works from local artisans.
Studies suggest that people retain only 10% of what they hear from an oral presentation three days after an event has taken place, with a bump to 35% if the presentation is visual instead. When these elements are combined, however, attendees remember approximately 65% of what they see and hear. It’s likely, then, that those who came to the festival this year will have a lot to take away. The sheer variety of performers — among them, the Annapolis Drum and Bugle Corps, First Christian Community Church Glory and Honour Praise Dancers, and Clones of Funk — is impressive enough, but then there were demonstrations and presentations on tracing genealogy, gardening, head wraps, singing, and dance to engage participants as well. Craft and food vendors were on-site to make sure the festival was a feast for all the senses.
In addition, NAACP members were on-hand to help festival-goers register to vote. Representatives from community groups, civic organizations, and the Ann Arundel County Department of Health were also in attendance.
Although Roots author Alex Haley passed away in 1992, his foundation allows the event to live on. His nephew, Chris Haley, gave a presentation this year. Roots continues to be an iconic piece of work; the novel and miniseries may have been released in the 1970s, but an updated version of the story was broadcast last year on television.
Those who are interested in finding out more about the annual Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival (or its non-profit organizer, Kunte Kinte Celebrations, Inc.) should visit the festival’s official website (www.kuntakinte.org).