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Windermere Observer Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 3 years ago

Local resident plans first Afrocentric Orlando Event

Christy Lynch, of Keene’s Pointe, will hold a grand celebration of cultures at the Rosen JCC for Black History Month.
by: Zak Kerr Staff Writer/Reporter

WINDERMERE  February means the middle of winter for everyone in the Northern Hemisphere, and for the United States, it also means Black History Month.

Christy Lynch, a Keene’s Pointe resident, wants the latter to mean something more in Orange County, with a grand occasion to mark it.

“I was born and raised in West Africa, and I just felt that the culture and the diversity is not as well-represented here in Central Florida,” Lynch said. “The Caribbean people have the big festivals and stuff, and I just believe that sharing the music, the art, the talent that is here — as far as those of us who are immigrants from Africa — would be a beautiful thing to do that time of the month.”

That time is 6:30 p.m. Feb. 20, to be specific, when Lynch will host the inaugural Afrocentric Orlando Event at the Rosen JCC gymnasium in Dr. Phillips as the founder of Hearts from Africa.

After a mix-and-mingle hour, the event will feature poetry, traditional music, exotic dances, an Ethopian coffee ceremony, drummers, other international performers, a multicultural fashion runway show, African arts and crafts, merchandise, a raffle and ethnic delicacies.

Featured guests include The Maisha Group from Congo, Yebi, Tim Babatunde Adebule, DJ 4Playa and special guest speaker Sen. Geraldine Thompson.

“When I call it afrocentric, I incorporate not just your basic drum beat and the basic in-depth African art, but more ... African pop, which is like the new-age fusion now in places like Nigeria,” Lynch said. “I just want to give it something classy, take people away from the stereotype of what Africa is. When I tell people I’m from Africa, they always think of the jungle and the safari and stuff like that. So I just want to show them there’s more richness to it.”

Lynch hopes as many as 500 attendees can experience that richness, and based on proximity of the center to Interstate 4, she believes it will be easily accessible. Moreover, the center is a family-friendly neutral venue that will serve as an ideal space, she said.

This event will benefit The Wells’ Built Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in June 2009. In its 6,000 square feet, the museum houses African-Orlandoan memorabilia, African art and displays on the Civil Rights Movement in Orlando. Exhibits include a 1930s hotel guest room with authentic furniture, beading and decorations; the South Street Casino; the Chitlin’ circuit performance hall; and artifacts from Dr. William Monroe Wells, a prominent African American physician who arrived in Orlando in 1917. He built a hotel in 1921 for those barred from segregated Florida hotels, with the South Street Casino and the performance hall soon thereafter.

But one word best describes the benefit Lynch wants for attendees of the Afrocentric Orlando Event.

“Enlightenment,” she said. “I want to enlighten people, basically. That is the core of it. I want to enlighten people to the beauty and diverse and rich culture of African art.”

Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].

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