AAHC event features 'soul food,' music
By Diane M. Kephart, 355th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 26, 2007
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. --
Airmen and their families here experienced African-American culture through food, dance and music during the "Tastes and Tones" heritage event Wednesday at the Hope Chapel Annex.
"We came up with the name 'Tastes and Tones' for the event because taste reflects the soul of the African-American community; hence, the word 'soul food,'" said Capt. Ja Rai
Fancher, chairperson of the African-American Heritage Committee.
Maj. Clifton Hicks of the 55th Rescue Squadron added, "The food was all provided by D-M military. We asked people to bring food that would represent their heritage, and all of this food was contributed to help celebrate African- American heritage and culture."
People who attended the event sampled ribs, chicken, catfish, jambalaya, gumbo, macaroni and cheese, candied yams, greens, potato salad, corn bread, pies and banana pudding.
Captain Fancher also described the "Tones" portion of the event. "We also had a professional dance instructor who, using music and representing our 'Slavery-to-Freedom' theme, helped everyone to experience the African- American culture."
Barbea Williams, founder of the Barbea Williams Performing Arts Comp any, taught attendees dances in mini-sessions. She taught Chicago-style "Steppin'," merengue, slide and line dancing, West African dance, as well as a mix of Brazilian and Cuban dance. She taught couples dances, singles dances and explained the reason for each type of dance.
"Culture is reflected in our belief systems," Ms. Williams said. "There is a cultural legacy passed down through the dance in the movement itself. I teach the history of the dance and give cultural stories and tidbits so people understand the background of how each
dance came about. For example, the Chicago slide came from 'bopping,' which came from the 'Jitterbug,' which came from the 'Lindy Hop,' which came from the Lindy - a shortened tribute to Charles Lindbergh's solo flight."
Chief Master Sgt. Vincent Howard of the 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron said, "Dancing was fun. I had never done Chicago-style steppin' before."
Ms. Williams said she was excited to participate in Tastes and Tones and was glad to support the military. "The military are all very special to me," she said. "My father served,
my brother-in-law (served), and I have two brothers who served. My prayers are for all the young people who are serving - that they will come home safe."
She said she was happy to help military members enjoy the experience. "It is important,
physically, to have exercise. When you combine it with the emotional and spiritual aspects of dance, it is powerful.
"I helped them work up an appetite before they tried all of the food, and for those who came to see me last, I helped them to work off that excess eating," she said, laughing.
Master Sgt. Jennifer Ellis of 355th Mission Support Squadron said, "It was neat to see and try so many different dishes. The catfish was the best."
2nd Lt. Isabelle Ross of the 355th Operational Support Squadron organized the event. She said she was happy that there was such a large turnout.
Captain Fancher explained the reason the AAHC events were planned in a certain order. "Religion is very prevalent in the African- American community. So, we started the month with a Gospel Jamboree during the Super Bowl and will end the month-long celebration with a prayer breakfast."
The prayer breakfast will be held at the Officer's Club at Feb. 27 at 7 a.m.