Department of Visual Arts, Humanities and Theatre
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Office of Black Diasporan Culture
Bringing Black Diasporan culture to university & community...

The mission of the FAMU Office of Black Diasporan Culture (OBDC), formed in 1992, is both educational and cultural: Drummersit is to foster tolerance and understanding by explaining and demonstrating traditions that have their roots in Africa, to members of the campus and larger community. These traditions include folkways that are transmitted through art (costume design and construction), poetry, dance, and music. It seeks to provide opportunities for students and faculty to participate, in a variety of ways, in events that enhance the academic climate of the campus, as well as to involve them in off-campus educational outreach activities.

Students involved with OBDC activities are able to increase their community involvement, add to their knowledge base, and improve their leadership skills. Faculty are able to serve the campus and community by communicating their knowledge and research interests outside of the classroom. The Office was designated an A&S (Activity and Service Fee) agency in 2002-03.

Activities of the Office

  • Sponsors the Rhythm Rushers (Bahamian Junkanoo Group) and Dromatala (African hand- and stick-percussion and dance group).
  • In collaboration with International Programs, helps recruit Caribbean students to FAMU, through a scholarship program
    holds public conferences that: 1) allow off-campus scholars and guests to visit FAMU & Tallahassee; and 2) involve students and faculty in the areas of the arts (both visual and performing), folklore/folklife, political science, humanities (history, philosophy, religion), anthropology, psychology, foreign languages, architecture, and women’s studies.
  • Produces an African-Caribbean Concert on campus each semester (since 1992) which is free to FAMU students and which exposes their Musicianknowledge and talents to the broader campus and off-campus communities.
  • acts as a liaison with student groups, such as the African Students Association, the Caribbean Students Association and the Haitian Cultural Club.
  • provides workshops to a variety of elementary, middle and high schools, as well as local museums and libraries (Bahamian Junkanoo, African drumming, Jamaican and Haitian dancing, African and Caribbean cuisine, dress, folktales/storytelling, etc.).
  • Sponsors art exhibitions and panel discussions in the Foster-Tanner Fine Arts Gallery.
  • Collects books, feature-length films, CDs, documentaries, art, sculpture, costumes, and crafts from a variety of Caribbean & African nations that are routinely loaned to students and programs on campus.
  • Provides faculty members with honoraria for off-campus, after-hours academic presentations.
  • Employs students on OPS when possible.
  • Uses volunteers from Volunteer Leon and provides work hours for FAMU students sentenced by the Florida Dept. of Corrections' pre-trial community service program for non-violent offenders.

African-Caribbean Concerts
Twenty-three (23) concerts have been held in Lee Hall auditorium on FAMU's campus, featuring campus and community groups and, when funding is available, special guest artists with national and/or international reputations (funded by gate receipts, Student Government Association, Student Activities, Office of International Programs, and grants).

Rhythm Rushers Bahamian Junkanoo Group
The mission of the Rhythm Rushers is to share Bahamian culture as it is expressed through Junkanoo, by performing, as well as by offering educational programs and hands-on workshops to members of the campus community and the public at large. Junkanoo is the national festival of the Bahamas, featuring a parade of sound and color that lasts all night long. On “Boxing Day,” participants dance down the street wearing beautiful, hand-made costumes, and play skin drums, cow bells, bicycle horns, and whistles. Begun in 1997, the group performs at a variety of locations throughout Tallahassee, the surrounding counties, other areas in Florida, and other states. Its most recent performance was in Washington, D.C.

Dromatala is an organization interested in the community-based perpetuation, presentation and study of hand- and stick-drumming of the African DancerDiaspora. As a part of OBDC, Dromatala has shown leadership in the crusade for arts education by providing information and cultural enrichment through the arts. Its activities include performances, workshops that teach about African culture, and the preservation of African-Caribbean music through documentation and education.
In addition, Dromatala develops, facilitates, and participates in various educational and experiential programs including seminars, exchanges, and festivals, designed to disseminate information regarding the history and culture behind the music and dance. An important aspect of its mission is to serve as part of the vanguard that continues to expose the link between African-American culture, Caribbean culture, and the traditional styles of West African music and dance.

Instruments played by Dromatala include the djimbe, log drum, balafon, djundjun, songba, kenkeni, shekere, and balafon. Many are hand-made by group members. Besides performing for FAMU and Tallahassee events, the members of Dromatala have performed nationally and internationally, including Bahia, Brazil, and Santiago, Cuba. Begun in 1993, Dromatala is directed by Osubi Craig.

Contact Information

Director: Keith Simmonds
Asst. Dean, College of Arts & Sciences
Prof., Political Science
411-A Tucker Hall

Grants Writer & Co-Director: Jan DeCosmo
Assoc. Prof., Humanities
108 FTAE

Coordinator and Research Assistant: Osubi Craig
M.S., Arts Administration (FSU)
108 FTAE
Office Manager: LaToya Davis Craig
A.B.D., Arts Administration (FSU)
108 FTAE
Advisor to Junkanoo Group: Avis Simmonds
Office Manager & Designated School Official for
 International Students
International Education & Development
305 Perry Paige North
Artistic Consultant: Percival "Vola" Francis
Band Leader, Shell Saxons Superstars
Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture
Nassau, Bahamas
Liaison with Students: Arthur Lugisse
St. Maarten Government
Tallahassee, Florida
(850) 212-2914

Updated 1-27-2006
Dr. Michael C. LaBossiere


Contact Info

515 Orr Drive
208 Tucker Hall
Tallahassee, Florida 32307

P: (850) 599-3831
F: (850) 599-8417