Mishea Clemons, Administrative Assistant III, Phila., PA
Created in 1975 by South Philadelphia resident, Lois Fernandez, the ODUNDE Festival is one of the largest African American street festivals in the United States. Lois came up with the concept after visiting the Oshun Festival of the Yoruba people in Nigeria in West Africa. ODUNDE means "Happy New Year" in the Yoruba language. The celebration is typically held every June in Philadelphia.
At the festival, many African and Caribbean vendors gather to sell cultural food, merchandise, natural body butters, and lotions. You can find African shea butters, natural hand-made African black soaps, stones, crystals, and centric bags, among other items.
Mishea attends the ODUNDE Festival every year with her sisters (pictured to the right) and enjoys visiting vendors and buying cultural merchandise. Her favorite memories of the event include African and Caribbean dancing and eating soul food.
"The festival is always a great, positive atmosphere where I celebrate my culture," says Mishea, "but it’s also an awesome opportunity for other cultures to come and learn about the African and Caribbean origin as well. It’s amazing to see other cultures talking to the different vendors learning about the origin of the merchandise.”
Mishea is passionate about making sure diversity is a part of everyone’s day-to-day life.
“It’s important to celebrate diversity in my own life to create generational insight and education so my lineage is inclusive and comfortable with diverse groups and continues the cycle. In the workplace, it’s important to celebrate diversity to inspire insight and respect for other cultures and to ensure that everyone feels like they matter and have a voice.”
Header photo from visitphilly.com.