Delaware held its second annual Black History Month Celebration Wednesday evening at Willis Education Center. The event — a partnership between Delaware City Schools and the Delaware African American Heritage Council — showcased essays, poems, art and dance.
This year’s theme was “Making Change Visible Through our Voice and Vote,” and the celebration featured presentations from Delaware Hayes High School students and groups of Dempsey Middle School students. Conger Elementary School students also completed poster board projects which were displayed in the cafeteria after the event.
Tamika Vinson-Reid, chair of the council’s Black History Month Celebration Committee, was one of the first speakers at the event. She explained that Black History Month was created by historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1926, and it was created to showcase culture and history “as a weapon in the struggle for racial uplift.”
“Here we are today fulfilling the hopes and dreams of Dr. Carter G. Woodson,” Vinson-Reid said. “To increase the visibility of African American life and history by celebrating important and often hidden figures. (Woodson’s) vision of Black History (Month) as a means for transformation and change is still relevant and useful, even today”
Vinson-Reid added Black History Month is something that should be celebrated as a community and a way to come together and learn about the past in order to create a better future.
“Black History Month provides a powerful source of inspiration and guidance from the past to form a more perfect community in the future,” Vinson-Reid said. “History is not dead or distant. It’s as alive as it was 94 years ago when Dr. Carter G. Woodson (created Black History Month). Black history is my history, black history is your history. Black history is our history.”
Kaitlyn Williams, a Hayes High School student, delivered a speech about the concept of equality. She said even though things are much better now than before Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, there is still work to be done.
“We may have equality now, but we are not truly equal,” Williams said. “We will not be equal until the slurs and the racial profiling stop. We all have different dreams, and I stand behind Dr. King’s dreams. I’m glad we are going in the direction of equality, but we are not there yet. We’re all like potatoes, once you peel us back, we’re all the same.”
Another Hayes student, Karl Edwards, shared with the crowd art he created. Edwards said he was thankful for King, because if it weren’t for him, he and his best friend would never have become friends.
Evelyn Mignanou, another Hayes student, read a poem she wrote.
“It would be embarrassing if I decide to hurt people instead of teaching them the wrong of their ways,” Mignanou said. “I stand here today knowing full well the amount of sacrifices that have been made to get me here today. From my family, my ancestors, and my brothers and sisters, I thank them all. We cannot fight anger with anger. We need to resolve to be better … this is no war, this is life.”
One of the most passionate speeches was delivered by Molly Hornberger, who read a speech about white supremacy and the effect it has had on America through its history.
“White supremacy is the parasite of racism, of discrimination, of oppression, and it is a parasite that needs to be killed,” Hornberger said. “We can do it. As we walk into the next decade we need to do it holding hands. We need to walk into it as allies … standing together for one cause. We need to walk into it ready to fight the parasite that is white supremacy.”
Tracey Sumner, a member of the Delaware African American Heritage Council, closed the event by praising the speeches and presentations given by the students.
“It’s not about (us), it’s about (them),” Sumner said gesturing to the students. “They are thinking the right way. We are the ones who have the challenge to break down what we’ve already learned. They’re the ones who are already sharing with us how we need to move forward and do what needs to be done so that our quality of life, their quality of life, and their children’s quality of life, will be better and different.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.