Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Scenes From the First Official Amherst Black History Month Celebration, 2014

The weather on the occasion of the first official Black History Month celebration in Amherst last year could not have been more different from what we experienced this past weekend. In 2014, some of the roughly two dozen participants wore short sleeves as they listened to UMass student and Amherst Human Rights Commissioner Damon Mallory open the ceremony.

State Representative Ellen Story and State Senator Stan Rosenberg presented the Town with two documents from Boston. The first of these was a citation from the Legislature, honoring the founding of the Amherst Human Rights Commission.

Front row, left to right: NAACP member and former Select Board member Judy Brooks, Human Rights Commissioners Sid Ferrierra, Damon Mallory, Kathleen Anderson (also NAACP President), and Gregory Bascomb.
Back row, left to right: Civil War reenactor Charleston Morris, State Rep. Ellen Story, State Sen. Stan Rosenberg

The second document was a proclamation by Governor Deval Patrick in honor of Black History Month.

Proclamation By His Excellency Governor Deval L. Patrick 

Whereas During the month of February people gather together across the country to celebrate Black History Month and

Whereas Black History Month reminds us of the struggles and personal sacrifices of African Americans, and honors their outstanding contributions and achievements, especially in the advancement of civil rights and equality; and

Whereas Massachusetts African Americans have made a great imprint upon our country's landscape: Edward Brooke, the first Black Senator elected by popular vote; Crispus Attucks, the first causality of the American Revolution; W.E.B Du Bois, author, historian and civil rights activist; and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, one of the first official black regiments of the Civil War; and

Whereas Our vibrant African American community continues to be a vital part of the Commonwealth's rich diversity by contributing significantly to all aspects of daily life, including education, medicine, commerce, agriculture, communications, public service and high technology,

Now therefore, I, Deval L. Patrick, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, do hereby proclaim February 2014, to be,

And urge all the citizens of the Commonwealth to take cognizance of this eventand participate fittingly in its observance.
Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston, this twelfth day of February, in the year two thousand and fourteen, and the Independence of the United States of America, the two hundred and thirty-seventh. 
By His Excellency Deval L. Patrick

Another project of Black History Month in Amherst consisted of posters in local store windows, celebrating African American figures with a connection to the town. Two examples:

 Singer-songwriter Natalie Cole studied at the University of Massachusetts.

Prolific author and former UMass professor Julius Lester. On April 16, he
will receive the 2015 Award for Local Literary Achievement 

Springfield-area Civil War reenactors of the Stone Soul Soldiers, Peter Brace Brigade, provide an honor guard for the ceremony.

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