A jubilant celebration with African drums, dancers and a choir marked the grand reopening of the University of Cincinnati’s African American Cultural and Resource Center Tuesday.
The event, which included a ribbon-cutting ceremony, fittingly took place on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
“This is an absolutely magnificent place,” said UC President Santa Ono. “The first time I saw [it] I was simply stunned.”
“This renovation gave us an opportunity to refocus the center so that it is of more flexibility for the students, more focused on the students and more focused on the history that brought us here,” said Greg Hand, UC spokesperson. “It’s also meant to inspire us about future possibilities.”
At the beginning at the ceremony, Eric Abercrumbie, AACRC director, performed a ritual libation. He poured onto a plant symbolizing good fortune for the past, present and future of the facility.
“This is a community center,” Abercrumbie said. “It’s a university center like Greek letter organization houses or the women’s center, but this center is focused on African-American life, especially in Cincinnati.”
Renovations began in August 2012 and included new furniture, carpet, television and displays of cultural art.
“We opened the walls up and added a new student lounge which can fit double the amount of people,” Abercrumbie said.
The room contains a large mural with pictures of graduates — such as Tyrone Yates, city council member and vice-mayor of Cincinnati, and UC Trustee Rob Richardson — who made their mark in the community.
“It’s inspiring to see such proud displays of our culture,” said Taquisha Hutchman, a fourth-year Africana Studies student.
The room features two new flat-screen televisions and will be used for student activities including dance classes and choir practices. The center will be open to all members of the UC community.
“Even though it is African American in name, it is still, above all else, a student center,” said Chris Allen, an AACRC faculty member. “It’s for students of the campus. We encourage people to come on in and take part in our facilities.”