The Community Soulfest

By Thairy Lantigua

Medgar Evers College raises several thousand dollars every year for student scholarships with Soulfest, an event celebrating the African Diaspora through dance, music, and food.

“The project started as an alternative to raise funds to help students in need in the department,” said Dexter Roberts, the communications development coordinator who created the event. “We have students that are homeless or have extreme financial needs and we want to help. They deserve equal opportunities especially for education.” Since 2017 the university has been able to raise an estimate of $20,000 each year.

The scholarships are given based on the needs of the students, who write an essay about their financial hardships. When they submit the essays, the names of the students are not included. Therefore, no one knows until the essays are read who the students are, giving each student an equal opportunity to earn the scholarship.

Throughout the day, 1000 people from the community enjoyed face painting, arts, crafts and giveaways. Glenn Bailey, 57, owner of Partner In Making Progress said he grew up in Brooklyn and had seen the college grow and students benefit. “It motivated me to be a vendor here today,” said Bailey, who has participated in the event for the last two years. “I support this event, because we need to let the young people know that they are part of the solution, not the problem.”

Despite the rain and wind, young adults, kids and seniors, came to the event. “I’m here to support the school with its mission to help out the students. It’s a great chance for the community to evolve,” said Cesar Martinez, 22 a student of Hostos Community College.

“I love that the college spreads the significance of the African diaspora,” said Delali Haligah, 45, president of the government of the Universal Negro Improvement Association African Communities League. “This is the African culture helping each other as brothers and sisters and it’s great.”

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