“MLK Day is a day of empowerment for a lot of students,” says Losseni Barry ’22 of New York City. “It gives them the opportunity to speak about what they feel is important within the Black community, as well as within the Bates community and Lewiston community.” 

Central to celebrating and exploring the relationship between Bates and Lewiston on Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Sankofa. Now in its 10th year, the annual student-run performance, scheduled for Monday evening at 8, explores the experiences of the African diaspora through theater, music, and dance.

2020 MLK Day Schedule at Bates
Bates’ distinctive celebration of MLK Day, from Sunday afternoon through Monday evening, includes the suspension of all classes on Monday to make way for programming to discuss, teach, and reflect on the MLK Day theme.

Abdulwahab Mohamed ’22 of Lewiston is the organizer of Sankofa, while Barry wrote the script and directed the performance. The theme of the performance this year is “Invisible Women,” featuring the stories of women of color at Bates and in Lewiston. 

The theme is particularly meaningful for Mohamed, who first saw a Sankofa performance as a high school student in Lewiston. 

Video by Theophil Syslo.

“The stories that go unheard are something I wanted to bring to light,” Mohamed says. He wants to “build that bridge between the Lewiston and Bates communities, see the stories of each other, and debunk any false perceptions of each community.” 

It’s exciting for Barry, meanwhile, to see his classmates put their own interpretations on the script he wrote.

“This was an opportunity to work alongside my friend [Mohamed] and those here to give voice to those who don’t feel heard and make something meaningful on campus,” he says. 

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