The Rapidian

Celebrating African American History month at GRPL's "Taste of Soul Sunday."

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The GAAH Press Club learns about African American history at the Grand Rapids Public Library's "Taste of Soul" event.
Dunuya Drum & Dance

Dunuya Drum & Dance /Samaria (GAAH Press Club)

Underwriting support from:
Jamaican Dave's

Jamaican Dave's /Samaria (GAAH Press Club)

North American Choral Company

North American Choral Company /Samaria (GAAH Press Club)

After attending "Taste of Soul Sunday" at the Grand Rapids Public Library, it became clear that the GAAH Press Club's favorite part of the event was tasting the new and interesting food samples that were offered there. As a result, the assignment for this article became not only to describe the day's events, but to also focus on food criticism by using unique descriptive words to help give the reader a better idea of what the food was like. To prepare, the students read food reviews by Alison Cook and John Kessler. Below are the resulting articles.



Oh, do you smell that? De-lish! Where is that music coming from? Sounds so wonderful! Where did it come from? At the Grand Rapids Public Library. What are they doing? Taste of Soul Sunday! OH, I get it. Last Sunday, the 19th of February, at the Grand Rapids Public Library, was an event called Taste of Soul Sunday. The GAAH Press Club was there too! I was with them!

When we got there, we were kind of early, but there was a humongous line! When it was 1:00 p.m., they opened the doors, and it was like a herd of rhinos were heading in. A volunteer kept taming them down a bit by giving them a schedule of what was happening on that day of loudness and sweetness.  

We skimmed over the schedule and the first event we chose was the North American Choral Company (NACC) at 1:15 p.m. We had to sit for a while, but when they started the first song they sang was “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder. He is a blind singer that is very successful in his life. After that, they sang another song of his called “My Cherie Amore.” Then three kids came up talking about three important people in Michigan. The first was a girl who pretended to be Henry Ford. She talked about the auto industry. The other kid was a boy who pretended to be Berry Gordy. He talked about owning the first Motown recording studio owned by an African American. The last kid was a girl who pretended to be Mattie Moss Clark. She talked about her being a church gospel choir leader. After that they sang “Home” by Charlie Smalls, from the movie The Wiz.

Food scents started to run into our noses, and the smell was so unbearable we just had to go get something to eat before we starved to death! We went to Chez Olga for Haitian food. We were close to first in line! I was scared to try the food because I had never seen it before. I wanted the jerk chicken, which had white and green onions, red beans and rice. I took my bowl to my seat while the mystery food smell surrounded my nostrils. I picked it up with my spoon and dumped it onto my tongue. It was so good and juicy that I just took over and ate it all. I wanted more, but I would have had to get back in line, which was way too long!

We wanted some more food, which was on the second floor, so we went to the way back in the Storytime room. It turns out we went to the wrong place, but we started watching these two women dance. I think it was African dancing. It started with some kids with crow masks, and in the background a lady was talking in an African language and playing the drums. Then the kids left and the two women started dancing together. We left because we were getting really hungry and entered a medium line of people.

When we got to the food, the cook didn’t look so happy, but he gave me a drumstick! The chicken was so well cooked that it fell off the bone.  Turns out it was Jamaican Dave’s, which is Jamaican food. I had studied Jamaica and I was really happy I was eating a sample of their food!

We stayed on the second floor to make the African masks. We had two choices: a giraffe or a monkey. I chose the giraffe and went originally. The boys were getting hungry, so they left to get some of the Southern Fish Fry soul food. The girls stayed to finish their masks. After we were done, we went to go find the boys in the lower level.

They had some banana pudding, so we went to get the other food, Lemon Lush, my favorite! The lemon pudding inside tasted so fruity! Then we went to level three to see if they had some more Haitian food. They still had some gumbo, but I didn’t like it because it tasted like a collaboration of food. So, we hung out in the gift shop and bought some food.

What I learned that day was an African dance. What I liked was how there was Jamaican food when I studied Jamaica. I didn’t like how the NACC still needed their scripts. That showed me that they were unprepared. It was a really great day when all of the rhinos ran away.


On February 19th the GAAH Press club went to the Downtown Public Library to celebrate Taste of Soul Sunday. The first event was hearing kids sing songs made by artists that were born in Michigan, like Stevie Wonder and Madonna.  

After that we went to eat some Haitian food that tasted like ribs. The rice was a bit dry but the meat was juicy and yummy. The food tantalizes your taste buds the second it touches your tongue. This was my favorite food that we had in the library.  

We went to make masks after that. It was so funny when I cut off the nose and put it in a different place. I even included a monocle.
At the end of the event I had questions that didn’t get answered. One of the questions was “what kind of food is African American food?”


On February 19, the GAAH Press Club went to The Taste of Soul at the Grand Rapids Public Library. The first event was when we saw the North American Choral Company sing. They sang a selection of songs by Michigan artists. Later, they broke into a play of famous people in Michigan.

After that we went to get some food. It was jerk chicken with some rice with red beans (from Haiti). Afterward, we went to make some masks. I made a giraffe mask! It had brown spots, a yellow face, yellow ears, and a stick as a tongue. Next we went to go get more food. It was chicken with a sauce, and on the side it was rice with black beans. Later, we went to the drums. There were a bunch of people in there! They were dancing really crazy, and I thought it was funny!

Finally, we went to the last food samples. It was Lemon Lush and gumbo soup. I really liked the Lemon Lush, but hated the gumbo soup!
I thought the Taste of Soul was going to be boring, but it was really fun and I really learned a lot.


On February 19, 2012 we went to the Grand Rapids Public Library for the “Taste of Soul.” I did research about Martin Luther King Jr. before going on the field trip.

The people who came to the event gave delicious food, and students form the North American Choral company came to sing. The music director was Mark Jackson, the Executive Director was Jayne Schultema, the music conductor was Ella Morgan with special guest artist, Sunny Wilkinson.

The library had sample food from local restaurants. The first sample was Chez Olga’s Haitian food. I thought it was very good because they had delicious jerk chicken. The second sample, Jamaican Dave’s food, was too bony and I almost choked on the bone. The third sample was Southern Fish Fry, which was soul food. The banana pudding and the beans were okay, and very delicious.

In conclusion, I want to go to Chez Olga Haitian restaurant and try more food, or go to Jamaican Dave’s restaurant and try more food if he doesn’t have any bony meat.


On February 19, 2012, the GAAH Press Club went to the Grand Rapids Public Library for “A Taste of Soul.”

When we arrived there, the first thing we did was hear people sing. It was super boring because I didn’t like the songs. Then next thing we did was eat Haitian food, and it was so good. We got to see African dancing with drums, then we ate the second sample. After that, we went to make masks. When we were done, we ate the third sample. After that we went to get candy, chips, and coke.

The food was good, but my favorite one was Southern Fish Fry because we had dessert with it. I didn’t like the other foods because the rice was too dry.

When we did the masks I was doing random stuff. When I was done I couldn’t support the sun, so I went under the table.

The things I liked best were the the food because it was free. The things I didn’t like was the African dancing because it was boring and I didn’t like their dancing. I didn’t learn anything about Black History Month.


We went to the downtown Grand Rapids Public Library. It was February 19, 2012. The event was named “Taste of Soul Sunday.”  There was food, singing, and thing of African American people’s culture.

First let’s talk about the food. The first sample of food that they gave out was the best of all. It was really delicious. It was rice and beans with some meat, and was Haitian food from Chez Olga. When I first saw it, I just wanted to throw it away. But when I tasted it, everything changed because of the taste. The second sample from Jamaican Dave’s was not the best. It was all dry and the meat was gnarled and mixed with rice.  The third sample was dessert, banana pudding. The other dessert was beans and a smashed potato (I have to be honest, but it kind of disgusted me). It was soul food from Southern Fish Fry. The last sample was gumbo from Chez Olga, and was mediocre. The liquid was mixed up with the food, and was thick (and looked grotesque).

There was peculiar dancing that reminded me of African dancing (they looked like if they were dancing Egyptian style. There was also a group of people singing songs from famous singers that came from Michigan (Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Bob Seger). They were making a play about Henry Ford and other people. Then when the time came, we got out and left.

One thing that I learned from the event was that there were famous singers from Michigan (Madonna), and I got to see that African dancing looks kind of similar to Egyptian dancing.


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