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To celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day and to promote inclusion, equity, transformative action and unity throughout the diverse communities of Los Gatos and San Jose, AWỌ is pleased to present on July 16, August 27 and August 28 our HUEmanity Salons Series, a three-day FREE drumming exchange bringing together unheard voices from local communities to unpack the different shades of our shared HUEmanity.


AWỌ is the word for skin and also color in the Yoruba language of Nigeria. So whether one’s skin color is reflective of Black, White, Indigenous, Asian, Middle Eastern, Latinx or of another culture/ethnicity, most of our true stories have yet to converge into a larger American narrative. AWỌ’s HUEmanity Salons Series aims to bring people together to amplify unheard stories and create more inclusive social narratives.


“After such a challenging last year filled with many incidents of hate, discrimination and racism here in Los Gatos and San Jose, we at AWỌ want to take a step towards healing, community-making and creative collaborations,” says Folake Phillips, Founder & Executive Director of AWỌ. “One way we seek to renew and re-weave our social fabric is through the power of rhythms, histories and traditions by showcasing drums that trace their history to Nigeria and West Africa, the Middle East, Southern Asia, and more.”

In Nigerian Yoruba culture, detailed messages could be sent by the Àyàn (i.e. drummer) from one village to the next faster than could be carried by a person riding a horse. The bending of the pitch of the drum was designed to replicate language that others hearing it would understand, and used to call people from far away to attend important cultural events. “The Yoruba talking drum, which is an amazingly advanced and famous art form from my culture, is a metaphor for AWỌ’s calling of people within hearing range to come and hear the stories of the diverse performers at these salon series talking about social justice, inclusion and community,” explains Folake Phillips, an African immigrant from the Osun State of Nigeria who is working to bring more cross-cultural understandings to local neighborhoods here in Santa Clara County.


Through the power of drumming, storytelling, and dancing and in honor of Nelson Mandela International Day, AWỌ will kick off this year’s HUemanity Salon Series in July 2022 with “Drums in the Park,” celebrating and amplifying the voices of women and girls having honest conversations about racism and the impact of skin color, social class, and ethnic cultures on their individual lives, and continue with “Drums of the World” in August 2022 to further explore and spotlight the voices of many more unheard members of our Bay Area community.

about us


AWỌ aspires to better understand the significance that color, class and culture have on individual stories being heard within society. With a focus on innovative programs and educational resources, we engage people of all shades to share, learn and create a more complete and accurate narrative of Huemanity. It is our Mission to create opportunities for those whose stories have been historically unheard or misrepresented. 

The Vision of AWỌ is to achieve a more inclusive and representative world by focusing on the unheard stories of individuals within society to build a more collective understanding about ourselves. We believe that a more complete story of Huemanity creates accurate cultural narratives within society and translates into more inclusion and opportunities in local schools, workplaces and government agencies.



Founder and Executive Director, Folake Philips, with Supervisor Cindy Chavez and Marico Sayoc, Executive Director of CASSY and former Mayor of Los Gatos, welcomes members of the community for the First Annual Drums in the Park celebration.

Keynote Address: Ann Jealous & Caroline Haskell
Welcome Address



The County of Santa Clara, Growing in Community, DESJ Division of Equity and Social Justice

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