RALEIGH — Awesome.
That is how Alando Mitchell sums up Saturday’s 18th annual African American Cultural Celebration in which nearly 50 youths in his A Drummers World Drumline performed.
A wealth of Wayne County residents followed them to Raleigh, as well, Mitchell said.
Held in partnership with the N.C. African American Heritage Commission and the N.C. Museum of History Associates, the procession moved up Bicentennial Plaza between the N.C. Museum of History and the N.C. Museum of Natural Science and into the history museum lobby.
The United States Colored Troops Color Guard and Reenactors led the way, followed by the Tryon Palace Jonkonnu Drummers and A Drummer’s World Drumline.
The event is the statewide kickoff to Black History Month at the North Carolina Museum of History.
“It was awesome,” Mitchell said. “The state invited us. We carried around 50 with us. It was my drumline, my color guard and my dancers. The Jonkonnu Drummers marched in first because we did like a processional coming down between the two museums.
“They represent our past — the African drums, the African culture. After they finished, they turned everything over to us. We represent the present way that we do drumming and dance and the future of it. We did like a five-minute performance in the Museum of History.”
Gov. Roy Cooper spoke following the performance.
“By the way, he loves our drumline. That’s what he told me,” Mitchell said.
A meal was served upstairs in the museum, following Cooper’s comments. After lunch, the group performed outside between the two museums.
“Once we got outside between the two museums, we put on a show that was out of this world,” Mitchell said. “There was probably a thousand people standing around us, all the way around us. It was amazing, the energy that the kids brought.
“We did our parade breakdown for them, marched on back to our bus. It was amazing to see all of those people following us to the bus when we finished, and it did so much for our kids’ self-esteem.”
It is important for people to know that the part they play in their community matters, Mitchell said.
“If all of our youths know that they have significant part in their community, and we as a community support that and let them know how much it means to see them doing something positive in our community, then I think the better our community will be,” he said. “When they know that they have a significant value, whatever their part is, and our part is performing arts.”
The youths practiced for more than a month to prepare for the performance.
The dancers and color guard started the after-lunch show with a performance set to the motorcade track from the movie “Coming to America.”
They ran off after the performance, and the drumline marched up to the audience and performed a drum feature that utilized what is called the Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ style of play, Mitchell said. The drumline puts together a cadence around that style of play, he said.
“They just worked the audience with that,” Mitchell said.