“Rhythm in Black” Black History Month Event Feb. 5
By Dianne Anderson
Break out of the quarantine doldrums for a full day “Rhythm in Black” celebration featuring top local talent, deeper discussions with Black Lives Matter, resources in the COVID continuum, and exhibits on the past, present and future of racial justice.
On Friday, February 5, the community is invited to virtually gather for a Black History Month Zoom event from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
The full-day event includes a showing of works from Nikkolas Smith, aka Nikkolas the Artivist. He designed all of the Black Panther posters and worked on theme park design at Walt Disney Imagineering.
Turnout has been strong in the past, and event host community advocate LaVerne Duncan said this year she expects interest from communities both near and far.
“We expect to even get participation from the Virgin Islands where I’m from,” said Duncan, who started the Black history event seven years ago.
Because the community has been so hard hit by COVID, she is hosting an exhibit that includes some of the latest information that the community may not know, such as African American Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, the lead scientist in the development of the Moderna vaccine.
“I wanted to draw attention to the importance of it, the disparities in communities of color,” she said. “I’m going to have an exhibit page on COVID with the city, and Dr. Anissa Davis is going to moderate the discussion.”
Around the city, nonprofits are working to improve COVID awareness, including her own outreach to provide masks, gloves and sanitizer whenever available to the families she serves as executive director of Andy Street Community Association in Long Beach.
She said the city seems to be doing a good job of testing, keeping the community aware of the local impact, she added. So far, Duncan has tested three times, and didn’t have to wait in long lines. Vaccines are now rolling and, and she’s ready to get hers at the end of the month.
Black History Month event participants can also compete for a cash prize. Whoever views the most exhibits by the end of the day will hit the top of the leaderboard and can earn a gift card. There will be three top prizes.
The event starts with a welcome from Mayor Dr. Robert Garcia, followed by keynote Darick Simpson, president of the Earl B. and Loraine H. Miller Foundation and Councilmember Al Austin moderating “How to Engage Communities of Color,” along with several other dynamic speakers.
The platform also allows people to connect and talk with others online. The event ends with a party, and a DJ showcasing music from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. They’ll also have a choir, and she said there is something for everyone.
“There’s lots of information and education. I’m targeting businesses as well, I have a discussion with three CEO’s about engaging communities of color in diversity equity and inclusion,” she said.
Under Duncan’s long-running theme of “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” this year’s celebration spans civil rights starting with slavery and the plantations all the way through President Obama. The nationally acclaimed artifacts of the Forgotten Images collection with Sharon and David McLucas presents their digital museum of rare artifacts collected from the 1600’s, the underground railroad, to the modern civil rights era.
Following is a presentation by historic civil rights icon Peggy T.D. Priestly, who is from Long Beach, and one of the original members of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
“She is one of the original Freedom Riders. Her great grandparents were slaves. She is doing a segment on Yesterday, and her experience of our generation that marched,” Duncan said.
Long Beach Black Lives Matter will speak to human and civil rights offenses of Today, about justice for Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and others who were killed by racist police brutality.
Vice-Mayor Rex Richardson hosts the Tomorrow section with discussions on Long Beach racial equity and reconciliation.
Duncan hopes the takeaway for the community will inspire across several timely fronts, especially as the nation and Black people have been dealt such a heavy blow this past year. She said these problems must be brought to the surface.
“Here in Long Beach, the Black History Month event is going to address the issue of the most recent insurrection,” she said. “It’s uncomfortable the conversations that we have to have and it’s necessary to have the conversation today about where we need to go going forward.”
To register for the free event, see https://www.andystreetlb.org/blackhistory2021
For more information on COVID resources and help, see http://www.longbeach.gov/health/diseases-and-condition/information-on/coronavirus/