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MIDLAND, Texas (ABC Big 2/Fox 24) – African American art forms have become deeply rooted in our lives. We checked in with those in our community, who dedicate their time to educate and keep their culture alive.

From jazz and rap to vibrant paintings and ethic dances, African American contributions to mainstream media are endless.

“We survived because of our perseverance,” said James Fuller. “That is reflected in our art, that is reflected in our music, that is reflected in our literature. And the list goes on.”

Robbyne and James Fuller are CEOs of the Midland African American Roots Historical/Cultural Arts Council. It is their mission to educate and highlight the beauty of African art forms.

“It depicts us for one thing,” said Robbyne Fuller. “All of the things that we have created as an African American people, or as African people, we want to keep all of those traditions and to remember our history.”

The two say creating an inclusive community starts with education — the willingness to teach and the readiness to learn.

“I think we have to be open within community and realize that we all bring something to the table.” said Robbyne. “It’s organizations like ours that are in a position to chip away and adjust that particular issue,” added James.

Tiffany Govan is an African American dancer teaching her own classes at Expressions of the Heart Dance Studio. She decided to stay and give back to her neighborhood in South Midland.

“You know, you don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re from,” said Govan.

History lessons are always a part of her class. She offers lessons like hip hop and praise dance that are both deeply rooted in African culture.

“Hip hop has been a very influential venue as a way of African Americans to be able to express themselves whether it be anger, whether it be sadness, or whether it be happiness,” explained Govan. “And then praise dance, back in the slavery days, you had the old negro spirituals. And so that was their way of praying to God and singing to God — everything that they were going through.”

Govan says beauty standards for black women also need a paradigm shift.

“They get such a bad rep for being “ghetto,” In our culture, that ends up getting exploited and other ethnicities get praised for.”

For more information about the Midland African American Roots Historical/Cultural Arts Council, click here.
For more information about the Expressions of the Heart Dance Studio, click here.