Origins Fair

Origins Fair

Autumn Clemons, Guest Columnist

On February 19th, 2016, I was in a position I never thought of being in… This day Hillcrest had its very first Origins fair held by my partner, Moriam Yarrow, and myself, Autumn Clemons. This day changed my life! If I was able to have a successful fair, I felt I could accomplish anything.

One Saturday in November, Moriam and I were at this college prep program I attend every Saturday called Target HOPE. We were sitting and listening to high school and college students speak about the disaster that had occurred at Mizzou recently. For those of you that may not remember, an outburst from a racist white man sparked anger from many of the black students attending Mizzou. This led to the black students standing up for their rights by having peaceful protests and a hunger strike on campus. Of course they received many threats from undercover racists, which led to them having to evacuate the campus because they feared for their lives.

During that Saturday morning, we were asked many questions such as, “How did the incident affect us personally?” or “How may it have changed our views about the country we live in?” One major question was, “How may this bring us as a minority group together and what are some ways we can educate ourselves on racism?” We heard many responses from young black high school students that came from all over the Chicago area. Coincidently, that same Saturday, Moriam and I were worried about what we would do for our National Honors Society senior service project. Moriam slid a note to me which read, “I think I should have a fair,” and when I read that, my mind began racing. I wanted to have an open mic session for my people to be able to express their feelings. We soon combined our idea into to having one huge African and Black culture fair at Hillcrest to celebrate Black history in a different way. We were tired of learning about the same five things that we learn during Black history month every February in school – it was time for us to make a change.

We immediately took our idea to Ms. Tate, the coordinator of NHS, and Dr. Young, our assistant principle. They were very receptive of the idea, but if we were really going to go through with it, we had so much work we had to do. Moriam and I soon were very dedicated to this fair. We spent many hours on the phone or meeting with each other about new ideas for it. We made plenty of calls, fundraised money, and bought many things for the fair. We were stressed out, but it was all worth it. We finally had the fair and it was a huge
At the fair, we had plenty of food, art, dancing, games and activities, vendors, open mic, music, and of course lots of fun. After all the tears, long nights, and grey hairs we had finally accomplished our goal! I was so overwhelmed with happiness because of all the support we got. I didn’t think it would be such a success. I believe the best feeling that night was seeing all the astonished faces in the crowd when Moriam and I spoke about how we were able to do this fair. Everyone was shocked that it was created by us – just two young black females trying to strive for a change. We heard many claps and screams as we thanked everyone for supporting us and coming out. When the night was over, I was relieved as well as empowered. So many good things came from the fair. It really made me realize how important it is to know your roots because being able to appreciate your struggle has a greater deal on you when you learn to appreciate your success. It made me appreciate my culture so much more. Though we may be viewed negatively, we as a minority group are very vibrant, cultured, and creative, and by having this fair I was able to open my eyes more to this.

So to whoever may be reading this, young or old, black or white, I just want you to know that you are able to do anything as long as you put your mind to it. Don’t ever doubt the power that you have as an individual. Only you are able to go the places where you truly want to be. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable and put yourself in a position to be great.

I would like to thank everyone, including every NHS volunteer and the Hillcrest administration that helped make the fair a huge success. Moriam and I couldn’t have accomplished anything without your help.