Africans have been coming to Oregon since the early 70s and in 2016; the African population in Oregon reached over 30,000 people from over 28 different African countries with 60% of that population residing in Multnomah County. Combine that with the 6.3% of African American population in Oregon and the unqualified Caribbeans in Oregon, it seemed necessary to establish a platform that is dedicated to enhancing and achieving an awareness and sensitivity to black cultures, such as an annual festival that brings people together to celebrate and reconnect with their African roots. More importantly, to combine the diversity in the African, caribbean and african american community within a Pan African Framework to achieve Pan African unity.
The need for an Annual Pan African Festival in Oregon arose in part because of the increasingly disproportionate racial and ethnic disparity rates in health care in the Pan African community. Also to connect these diverse African communities to each other, and to the existing African American community. Research on the matter indicates that lack of understanding, attitudes, perceptions, and prejudices may be related to the problem of immigrants and refugees and Oregonians being estranged from each other. . Because of this, it is important to develop mechanisms that galvanizes, empowers and mobilizes Pan Africans and others in Oregon to increase other’s knowledge, empathy, respect and understanding for this emerging cultural diversity.
We decided that this can be accomplished by putting together an annual Pan African Festival with an emphasizes on promoting health equity, employment and educational opportunities, community awareness (including health and related determinants, and notion of empowerment). These are essential steps to getting Pan Africans and those working on their behalf to involve them to pursue policy changes that shift the social and other determinants of health, and related concerns as well as to provide the necessary space to talk about and fight for social justice.