The University of Connecticut H. Fred Simons African-American Cultural Center held their annual Welcome Back Dinner in the Student Union last night. The dinner was one of the first large gatherings the center had held since March 2020, when the pandemic started.
The program began with a few words from Dr. Willena Kimpson Price, the director of the AACC, and the introduction of guests in attendance, including Frank Tuitt, the chief diversity officer of UConn and Letissa Reid, the associate vice president of the Office of Institutional Equity.
Members of the executive boards of organizations affiliated with the AACC introduced themselves afterward, including the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, the West Indian Student Organization and the Black Student Association.
Throughout the program, there were multiple performances and short speeches by those affiliated with the AACC.
A recorded performance by the Voice of Freedom gospel choir was played in lieu of a live rendition. The video featured members of the choir singing over video and the clips were pieced together with music to create the performance.
Iris Jordan, the president of UConn Poetic Release, performed a spoken word poetry piece during the program as well.
The evening also featured live musical performances from Wesley Nyambi on the piano and Tony Diaz on the violin.
Roger Hamlin, the father of an AACC student employee, also gave a musical performance at the event.
Stepping and strolling performances were given by members of Alpha Phi Alpha with a short history of their fraternity.
A short candlelight vigil was held in honor of Shaneca Napier, a member of Sigma Gamma Rho, who passed recently and was very active in the AACC in her time at UConn.
“We’ve got to be safe, we’ve got to be healthy, and we’ve got to take care of ourselves,” Price said to students at the end of the program.
The program ended with prayers from representatives from the Black Muslim Student Association and a prayer by the emcee before food was served.
The AACC will be holding a general interest meeting for those interested in participating in homecoming on Tues., Sept. 21 at 6 p.m. in the AACC lounge.
The African-American Cultural Center will be announcing future events through their website at aacc.uconn.edu and on their Instagram page @aacc.uconn. They can be found on the fourth floor of the Student Union or contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.