Today, Rollins College has a vibrant and diverse student body. “Diversity and Inclusion” initiatives include a number of student organizations and cultural heritage celebrations throughout the school year. (1) The social transition that made Rollins a college with a diversity-positive attitude took place over the course of several decades after the college integrated in 1964. Africana Fest was an expression of increased presence and activism of the black student body on campus in the early 1990s in conjunction with the Rollins community’s increasing desire to celebrate diversity, especially racial diversity. The Africana Fest held in March 1991 and again in April 1992 honored black culture and heritage in the form of a series of celebratory events and talks on campus.
Anthropology faculty were very involved in preparing for the event, and the Black Student Union contributed heavily to the project as well. Deidre Crumbley, the coordinator of Africa and African American Studies at Rollins College, described the 1991 event as “an experience which immerses participants in the music, dance, drama, cuisine, visual arts, crafts, literature, and religious experiences of people of African descent.” (2) Crumbley was responsible for much of the event planning, as well as the fundraising. (3) She oversaw the art exhibit, the fashion extravaganza, the independent black filmmakers festival, the folk music performance, the Gospel in the Chapel religious event, and the public lecture. (4) Both incarnations of the event had a sizable and racially diverse turnout, with students as well as community members of all ages attending the celebration together on Mills Lawn.
- “Center for Inclusion and Campus Involvement: Diversity & Inclusion,” Rollins College, accessed December 2, 2018. https://www.rollins.edu/inclusion-and-campus-involvement/diversity-inclusion-intiatives/index.html.
- Deidre Crumbley, April 19, 1990 (announcement). “AfricanaFest 1991: The First Annual Festival of Africana Culture.” Archives and Special Collections, Olin Library, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.
- Crumbley to AfricanaFest Working Committee, “Next Meeting and Agenda / Schedule of Meetings for this Academic Year,” September 19, 1990 (correspondence). Archives and Special Collections, Olin Library, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.
- Crumbley to AfricanaFest Planners, “Next Meeting,” 22 March 1990 (correspondence). Archives and Special Collections, Olin Library, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.