February 27, 2018

Black History [It's More Than a Month]

Celebrating and elevating Black history month.

An inspiring Black History Month culminated with an inspiring community event, marking the 9th Annual Black History Celebration at Friends of the Children.

The theme throughout the month of February was “It’s More Than a Month,” recognizing that Black history is not separate from American history. Youth engaged in cultural activities such as making Oware board games, the original Mancala from Ghana. They also learned about and made their own versions of kente cloth and had storytime with stories about children who reflect their lived experience, as well as African folk tales such as Anansi, the spider.

In the spirit of this year’s Black History Month theme, culturally specific group activities will continue well into March. Planned activities include a Black Panther viewing party and discussion, community service at the food bank (in honor of the Black Panther Party’s social programs such as Free Breakfast for Children), and a visit to the Oregon Historical Society Museum to view the exhibit “Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years.”

Last Friday, we invited the larger community to an evening gathering and celebration. As Paul Boddie, the chair of the Black History Committee, expressed, “Our cultural and community events are truly a great way for our youth to be connected, feel connected and stay connected. Building a strong sense of community for our youth, families and neighbors is extremely important, and I love that we are able to share and hold these events in our spaces.”

The event honored specific members of the community for their important contributions. It also featured youth who wrote and presented “I AM” poems. After some amazing drum and spoken word performances, the community came together to enjoy a wonderful meal.

One of the Friends, Mary Dunbar, said that this event was very impactful. “My youth’s cousin joined us, he’s in 3rd grade at Rigler, and when we left the event, he kept saying it was the best night of his life! He got up not once, but twice, in front of everyone to read his "I AM" Poem that he had written earlier in the night … [He] was able to see many of his classmates and several of the staff from Rigler, and he felt a strong sense of community.”