Irene Baumann smiled Tuesday as she applauded lively performances by African American entertainers and strolled Fullerton College's quad, which was filled with music, vendors and the aroma of barbecued ribs and chicken.
The 54-year-old student was one of about 100 people attending the school's first "African American Showcase Festival," sponsored by the campus Black Student Union.
"This is fabulous," Baumann said, while watching the Afro-Caribbean Dance Revue do its thing with a limbo stick, fire and broken glass. "What a good way to bring out compassion for African Americans. It's something I would have liked to have seen many years ago."
Charnessa Holmes, president of the Black Student Union, said the festival was created as part of Black History Month and "to show that African Americans have culture, which is underrated."
The event also aimed to promote pride and foster cultural understanding, she said.
Student Jimmy Ramos was awe-struck.
"I've never seen anything like this before," Ramos said. "I'm really impressed. This is educational for everyone. I always get excited when I see people sharing their culture."
That's why Eddie Gage, a Fullerton private investigator, attended the event.
"This is about black people celebrating because we are black," he said. "We should celebrate every day of the week."
Ethnic studies instructor Ernie Bridges said the festival, with its Jamaican dance troupe and African American business owners selling their goods, was something students had been wanting to stage for years.
"We're just sharing our soul food and our customs and everyone's enjoying it," student Vereshelia Bolton said, while serving sweet potato pie during the festivities.