Last year, Adey K. Delbridge '00, president of the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College, was on tour in Trinidad with his fellow group members, preparing to perform in front of a crowd of children, when he realized what it meant to be a "Kuumbabe."
"Before we were onstage, the choir was acting silly, giggling...being one big crazy, silly family," Delbridge says. "But when the curtains opened we were completely serious, completely professional, and we had an amazing time...I remember myself saying, 'That was Kuumba. A family with a message of black creativity and spirit all put together in one wonderful evening.'"
This weekend, Kuumba celebrated its 30th anniversary, delighted at how the group and its motto, "Dedicated to the expression of black creativity and spirituality through song," has endured over three decades.
The weekend's celebration culminated in a sold-out concert in Sanders Theatre on Saturday night, a day which the Governor of Massachusetts dedicated in honor of Kuumba.
But though the motto has remained constant for 30 years, much has changed within the group, as it has gone from cash-strapped to relatively prosperous and from ethnically homogenous to culturally diverse.
Dennis W. Wiley '72, co-founder of the Kuumba Singers, marveled at how far the group has come.
"It was our dream that the group would survive, but [in the early 1970s] there was such subtle hostility toward acknowledging black cultural contributions to this society," he says. "We couldn't take for granted that something like this would survive at Harvard for 30 years."
Strangers in a Strange Land