Creating the Extraordinary Student Experience


The African American Heritage Festival has always been a venue of celebration, education and collaboration with the African American students as well as the general student population. With a culmination of events and programs over a nine-day period, we hope to continue the rich legacy of the Heritage Festival by building a strong community and sense of unification.

The African American Heritage Festival, formerly known as the “Block Party,” began in May of late 1970’s as a day for students to come together and celebrate the conclusion of the academic school year. For several years, the west campus area near the Drake Union accommodated the celebration. With increased popularity, the “Block Party” had to relocate to various campus locations.

By the 1980’s, a great percentage of students attending the events were primarily African American. Because of a heightened cultural consciousness and collective identification as a community, the “block party” evolved into a celebration of African American heritage. Students later dismissed the name “block party” and adopted “African American Heritage Festival” to adequately represent the purpose of this communal event. The African American Heritage Festival has since evolved into a weeklong celebration! Students have weaved the event into the natural fabric of Ohio State, as well as the Columbus community. 

Nine years ago, a movement to further progress the purpose of the festival was introduced by adopting Swahili words, which is the most widely spoken language in Africa. Heshima, the Swahili word for respect, along with the slogan: “It Takes an Entire Village” was adopted as an integral focal point of the Heritage Festival. This movement increased participation from those of diverse backgrounds at all events, with the step show becoming the most evident reflection of plausible campus solidarity.