OC Black History Parade and Cultural Fair Feb. 3
By Dianne Anderson
Pulling together what it takes to serve 8-10,000 who roll through the OC Black History Parade and Cultural Fair seeking a taste of soul, top entertainment and trending diaspora, is not always easy.
But it is the best thing going in the county since the legacy of parade founder Helen Shipp got it started 44 years ago.
For Shedrick Collins, the parade has evolved in step with the evolution of social media, which makes it easier for the community to reconnect.
Since the Orange County Heritage Council formed years ago to organize the annual parade and fair, he said the transformation has been exciting to watch. With dedicated planning, the event has shaped up into something that benefits the whole community.
“A lot of hard work goes into this,” said Collins, president of the Orange County Heritage Council. “We can’t wait because we’re such a small organization. We’re working with 10 to 12 [on council] and four to five volunteers. It’s a year-round job for us, but we love it.”
On Saturday, February 3, the parade starts at 10:00 a.m. located 205 W. Center Street Promenade, Anaheim.
Numerous vendors will be on site, including 14 universities, including Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. Dr. Drew is world renown for developing lifesaving blood storage, and separation of blood plasma.
“Dr. Drew was a key African American figure. We’re happy to have King Drew represented, the first Black university recognized in Orange County and the state of California. It’s not a historically Black university, but his is the first Black university for California,” he said.
Representatives from local organizations in fields of health and medicine will be available. There will be education, entrepreneurship and investment opportunities, and someone to talk about home loans.
He said the Cultural Fair is also an opportunity to share the Black dollar throughout the community. Small businesses can get a chance to grow with potential buyers they wouldn’t otherwise have.
Vendor opportunities are still open for information booths and nonperishables. They never want to turn vendors away, but he said the community has to act fast.
It’s the perfect time to buy quality hard to find items, jewelry, clothes, paintings, or artwork.
“A lot of quickly go to Amazon for traditional items, but here you have people selling dashikis and African blankets for things that you don’t get to see and touch online until they arrive,” he said.
Leading the way, Black Greek Letter fraternities and sororities will kick off the cultural fair.
“My fraternity Omega Psi Phi will be there. they always step and hop in the parade, and they start the cultural fair off with a live performance from the Divine 9,” he said. “Each fraternity and sorority will be represented. I think it will be outstanding.”
Community advocate, Dr. Devera Heard, said with the March 5 Primary Election just weeks away, she will be at the Black History Month event promoting the importance of the vote.
She said voter registration information must be accurate and up to date, or their vote could be taken off the rolls.
“That’s what is happening in other states and we don’t want that to happen in California. We want people to check their voter status,” said Dr. Heard, who also serves on several boards, including Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Orange County Chapter, and the National Council of Negro Women.
Once registered, she said voters need to fill out their ballots, mail them in, or go down to the polling place and cast it. Statistics show people are getting registered, but not turning out to actually vote.
This year, local NCNW will have a decorated car in the parade, and is spreading their message of personal health, and mental health. She said many in the community are dealing with stress and strife from the overall mean mood of society.
“They’re worried about who are you going to fight with next. We have doubled the number of booths in the health fair. We are focused on mental and physical health, COVID and RSV and vaccinations. A lot of people have slacked off since the pandemic,” said Heard, also past president of the OC-Heritage Council.
She said that anyone lacking health insurance now could pay up to $100 for a COVID-19 vaccine. At the event, they are also alerting the community about how to request the CDC Bridge Access program for free vaccines at the pharmacy.
Through all the festivities, she feels the community must remember the vote, and keep their place in the process.
“There are voter rights legislation things going on,” she said. “People have died to get us voter rights and people are trying to rescind it. We’re lucky that California is moving forward.”
To check voter status, see https://voterstatus.sos.ca.gov/
For more information on the parade, see