From left to right: Kymberlyn Carson-Thrower, recreation staff/committee member; Debbie Hernandez, recreation staff/committee member; Myrtle Braxton-Ellington, Commission on Aging/committee member; Naomi Williams, Commission on Aging/committee member; Bryan Harris, recreation staff. Not pictured – Peter DeFabio, recreation staff/committee member. Photo by Charles Anderson.
By Debbie Hernandez
The 6th annual sold out celebration of Black History held on Feb. 8 at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium focused on the history and people of Richmond.
The event featured stories of migration to Richmond; gospel and praise dancing; poetry and civil rights speeches; local heroes, and fashion from different regions of Africa.
The Recreation Department integrated the program with the history of African Americans in medicine, science and technology industries as well as the armed forces and arts and business.
In addition, local members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the Richmond Fire Department and the Pinole Interact club volunteered their time to assist in serving meals and welcoming participants to the event.
The celebration began in 2007, hosted by staff at the Richmond Senior Center. The program included a sit-down dinner, performances of senior center classes and recognition of seniors in the community who helped influence in the progress and character of Richmond.
Three years ago, the event had outgrown the senior center and was moved to the Richmond Memorial Auditorium. With few resources, senior center staff and the recreation special events staff worked to bring an intergenerational component, showcasing the impact of seniors in the community and the positive actions and accomplishments of youth.
The goal was to make Richmond stronger in culture and civic pride.
The fast-growing event needed more financial and community support. In August 2012, the Commission on Aging agreed to help with the fundraising. The commission secured donations to bring the West African Dancers and the Chantler Townsend Band to the 2013 event.
The celebration sold out in 2012 and again in 2013, with over 300 people in attendance. Representing diversity of ethnicities, ages and languages, the event has quickly become an important commemoration of Black History Month and the history of Richmond and pride in the community.
Anyone who would like to donate to the Richmond Black History Celebration, please make checks payable to the Richmond Senior Center Trust/Black History, 3230 Macdonald Ave., Richmond 94804. Attn: Richmond Black History Committee.