Black History Month conference at BC

Olivia Patterson, Reporter

The Black History Month conference “Hustle and Motivate: It’s for the culture” featured Bakersfield native and keynote speaker Terrance Minnoy, on Feb. 7 at the Edward Simonsen Performing Arts Center.

This year’s Umoja community club event was coordinated at the Bakersfield campus by Dr. Paula Parks. The Umoja Community represents around a million African Americans worldwide, as long as they are under the age of 25.

The loud beating of drums, colorful African dresses and energetic dancing by the West African born drummer Dramane Kone and group Djelia Kadi, who made their first appearance in the award-winning documentary “Great Great Grandparents Music” and who were also featured on the OWN network, opened the event.

The music captured the attention of all the senior students that came from Shafter, North, West, Ridgeview, Foothill, Stockdale, Golden Valley and BHS high schools.

Students, along with Bakersfield College professors and high school advisors, were invited to join the performers on stage. It created a contagious energy that seemed to consume the entire building.

As the students learned new native West African dance moves, the senior students also snuck in a few modern dance moves for the master drummer Kone to try and learn.

The master drummer and ‘griot’, or storyteller, spread his energy throughout the audience while also becoming the teacher, educating students in West African words like ‘love’, while also dancing and beating on his drums.

Olivia Patterson
Dramane Kone and group Djelia Kadi open the Black History Month festivities with the sound of West Africa during the “Hustle and Motivate: Its for the culture” event on Feb.7.

Passionate keynote speaker, Terrance Minnoy, followed suit with the same energy, despite once suffering three strokes in 24 hours and facing death. He made a full recovery and reminded the audience that “Wealth doesn’t buy you health.”

He shared strategies that people can use to recover from setbacks, reinvent themselves and illuminate their true passions and purpose, making it known that “You don’t have to accept the punches that life will inevitably throw at you.”

Quoting the late Kobe Bryant, “I have nothing in common with lazy people,” he said. He makes you determine what your “Why” is, the reason you do things even when adversity slaps you in the face, encouraging these young moldable minds to use their words of affirmation. They were told to proclaim out loud in front of everyone in the audience their self-awareness, their self-approval and their self-commitment.

He rewarded the high school students with a copy of his book “Indifferent Strokes.” By doing this, he empowers and motivates everyone in the audience and leaves everyone full of energy and ready for whatever’s next.

Throughout the day, there were workshops paying tribute to Nipsey Hussle with themes like “Grind Mode: Choosing a major,” “Love: Kings in training,” “Late nights and early mornings: Transition to college,” “Elevate: student leadership,” and “Sacred women: Staying strong through the storms.”