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Mace & Crown | May 25, 2017

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Sankofa Keynote Places Importance on Past and Future

Meng McLendon
Contributing Writer

The Sankofa Keynote address was held Thursday, September 22 at the Ted Constant Convocation Center, promoting an inner look at individual black lives and inspiring messages of momentum and change for the future. The address brought together students from Old Dominion University and several key speakers.

The Sankofa address is an annual event to unite the black population within ODU’s community, especially the students.  During this event, nearly 200 attendees and speakers addressed the meaning of Sankofa: to look back at the past and move forward with understanding.

This was emphasized by ODU president John Broderick during his discourse on inclusivity within the campus.

Amongst other speakers in attendance at this event were Christopher Ndiritu, ODU Student Government president, and LaWanza Lett-Brewington, a representative of the Coalition of Black Faculty and Administrators.

“The way out is back through,” Lett-Brewington said “…collectively we can make change.”

Another speaker, Tanesha Boulden, this year’s National Pan Hellenic Council president, illustrated that the Sankofa symbol is a bird flying forward while looking back, holding an egg in his mouth.  Boulden then went on to explain that the bird is a representative of all audience members.

“It can represent four or more years at ODU, trying to push through, trying to balance, trying to find our identity,” Boulden said.

The evening address was capped off by a speech offered by Portsmouth Mayor Kenneth Wright.  Mayor Wright brought the meaning of the Sankofa to students through closing remarks.

“The past is not dead and gone, but walks with us as we move through life,” Wright said.

Wright also commented on the fulfillment black students should feel.

“Being black in America is something that each and every one of you should be proud of,” Wright said.

Wright’s words were gentle reminders to the audience that put into perspective the issues that black ancestors faced, the issues that black students face today and that moving forward will continue to work for our successors.

“Embrace the spirit of Sankofa and use it to strengthen our communities and make this world a better place,” Wright said.

The Sankofa speech was sponsored by the Office of Intercultural Relations.