As January comes to a close, Black History Month, or National African American History month, begins. February is a time for celebrating and reflecting upon the achievements of African Americans throughout history.
Locally, the city of Kingston is hosting several events this February in honor of Black History Month. The series of events, called “Black History Month Kingston,” were organized for the first time by Frank Waters in conjunction with the A.J. Williams-Myers African Roots Library. The events intended to bring together local churches, businesses, artists, educators, community groups, museums, and more to celebrate African American history.
Ulster County is rich with African American history, from recognizing the legacy abolitionist Sojourner Truth taking her reflective walks down Huguenot Street in New Paltz, to remembering the implications of the intricate underground passageways in uptown Kingston that were part of the Underground Railroad for freedom. The events intend to celebrate this rich, expansive history.
The kick-off event took place on Feb. 3 at RUPCO’s Lace Mill Factory. The event brought together participants which celebrated the rich narrative and triumphs of African Americans. People screened films, displayed art, performed poetry, and music. The event was complete with lectures and workshops.
Congressional candidate for the Democratic Primary, Antonio Delgado spoke at the event, commenting eloquently on the power of now in overcoming challenges, while elaborating on the importance of moving forward towards collective and individual greatness.
The first in the series of events also featured dance and African drumming and poetry, with dance performances by Electric Dance Company, spoken word by Ziabiya Cherry, and youth readers from the Everette Hodge Community Center in Kingston.
Frank Waters, an activist and creator of mykingstonkids.com, is the organizer of the events and is aiming to produce a collaborative set of programs which are designed to engage and empower within the context of black history, according to the “Black History Month Kingston” website.
“Our mission is to showcase and pay tribute to the legacy and contributions of African Americans in Kingston and the surrounding areas,” the website reads. “We are marketing a combination of events and activities under the one Black History Month Kingston umbrella.”
Upcoming events across the month of February range from film screenings, to lectures, to activities for children. An event entitled “THE REVIVAL: WOMEN AND THE WORD,” on Sun. Feb. 11, will feature a screening of a film which “chronicles the U.S. tour of a group of Black lesbian poets and musicians, who become present-day stewards of a historical movement to build community among queer women of color,” according to the event’s website.
Another event on Feb. 17 entitled “James Bernard: Political Promise Of The Hip Hop Generation,” will feature a lecture by James Bernard, the Executive Director of Public Allies New York, an AmeriCorps program focused on social activism. The lecture will discuss the connection between contemporary social movements such as the Black Lives Matter movement and the hip-hop community that “was marked by an energy around entrepreneurialism and a thirst for social discourse that many had hoped would provide the framework and energy for a new social movement,” according to the event’s listing on the “Black History Month Kingston” website.
For the location and descriptions of these events and many more visit mykingstonkids.com/bhmk/index.php.
For additional information and updates on the events being held, visit the “Black History Month Kingston” Facebook page.