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Institute Celebrates African-American Culture

By Eddy Ball
March 2009

Nafiys Rice
The current president of RTP BIG, Nafiys Rice, was the event's master of ceremony. Rice is a student at North Carolina Central University and a substitute teacher. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

NIEHS Choir
The NIEHS Choir sang three selections during the first part of the celebration - including the moving anthem by James Weldon Johnson, "Lift Every Voice and Sing (http://www.aug.edu/pbs/lift_every_voice_and.htm) Exit NIEHS." (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Larrhonda Foushee
The celebration was a family affair as well. Larrhonda Foushee, above, daughter of NIEHS Project Officer Jennie Foushee, performed as part of the Millennium Revival Center Mime Group. Shavia Westmoreland, daughter of NIEHS Administrative Technician Myra Westmoreland, was one of the group of Enloe High School students who read their poetry. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Lakesia Register, Wanda Holliday and Lorenzo Davis
From left to right, NIEHS staffers Lakesia Register, Wanda Holliday and Lorenzo Davis performed a scene from the award-winning play, "A Raisin in the Sun." Edward Mosely, not shown, was also a member of the ensemble. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Nafiys Rice, Veronica Godfrey and Annette Rice
Toward the end of the first part of the ceremony, a genuinely surprised NIEHS biologist Veronica Godfrey, center, received a plaque of appreciation for her service as president of RTP BIG. Flanking her are Nafiys Rice, left, and BIG member and NIEHS stem cell biologist Annette Rice. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

The NIEHS Diversity Council joined with the RTP Chapter of Blacks In Government (BIG) to sponsor a novel African-American Cultural Celebration in Rodbell Auditorium and the NIEHS Cafeteria February 26 for Black History Month Observance.

As promised, the event featured entertainment by musicians, dancers, actors and mime performers, a sampling of foods from Africa, America and the Caribbean, and exhibits showcasing African-American history and culture.

The event drew a near capacity crowd to Rodbell Auditorium and the cafeteria. Afterwards, several attendees remarked that it was one of the most spirited celebrations of its kind ever at NIEHS.

The crowd nearly filled the NIEHS Cafeteria
For part two of the celebration, the crowd nearly filled the NIEHS Cafeteria, where dance, poetry, good food and more music were the order of the day - as were the many standing ovations performers received. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Dee Anderson
NIEHS Secretary Dee Anderson's moving poem, "America Made a Change," celebrated the election of the country's first African-American President. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Jewel Brown
The NIEHS Community Choir shifted from solemn to energetic when it moved to the cafeteria. Contract computer support specialist Jewel Brown, above, led the singers in a rendition of "Oh, Happy Day" that had members of the audience singing and even dancing along. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)



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