A Kwanzaa expo with a Silicon Valley twist drew young people to San Jose from all over the Bay Area on Saturday for a lively celebration of African-American culture.
Along with dance and music celebrating the annual African-American holiday at the Kwanzaa Village Youth Expo was a message:
"Am I all I ought to be?" Jacky Anderson of Vallejo asked a crowd of young people at the Hoover Middle School Theater. To best answer that question, she said, "go to college, study, graduate."
Anderson, executive secretary of Dublin-based PRIDE Museum, which organized the event, said "we want to make sure we can preserve the history of the African-American culture."
However, "I'm a techie person," she said, "and our whole purpose is to increase the number of kids going into science and technology fields -- boys and girls, all races and everything."
Devante Bryant, 16, has already gotten the message and taken it to heart. While he manned a booth at the fair, Bryant -- a straight-A student at his high school -- explained that he's taking a Web design class and wants to continue studying math and science.
His sisterRaiven, 13, was holding down a booth where kids could make their own African masks. She said she's "good with technology" but is more interested in going into sports medicine than straight tech.
And Kwanzaa? "It's a celebration for my culture," she said.
The event featured inspirational dance from the Graceful Praise Dancers of Mountain View, a Kwanzaa ceremony by the Tabia African American Theater Ensemble, music by Rudy "Unc Funk"Anderson and Djembe drumming by the Oriki Theater.
The PRIDE Museum launched in 2011 with a goal of getting young people into math, technology and science.
Kwanzaa emphasizes community spirit, personal betterment, self-help and respect for teachers, parents and leaders. Combining those principles with science education made sense to Pamala Springs, PRIDE's executive director.
Contrary to some recent reports, there are more than a few African-Americans working in Silicon Valley in science and technology jobs. Locally, there are about 200 Silicon Valley African-American tech workers in Springs' database, part of more than 600 people she's identified nationally.
"We inspire youth to be involved in careers in science and technology," Springs said. Anyone can become a member, she said. "Just like we don't want to be left out, we don't want to leave anybody out."
PRIDE is an acronym for "preserve, research, involve, develop, enrich," she said. To further those goals, the group organizes talks and takes youngsters on excursions to science museums and tech companies.
"Here's a chance to go to venues their parents may not have the time to take them to," she said, "and we're always talking about college and keeping their heads in the education mode as much as possible."
The group is still raising money to finance its programs, she said.
Contact Pete Carey at 408-920-5419. Follow him at Twitter.com/petecarey.