The Lee County Black History Society hosted the 4th Annual Legends Gala at the Dr. Carrie Robinson Center on February 26th. The Legends Gala was created to honor the historic contributions of local citizens, groups, and/ or cultural institutions. The year’s honorees included Grace Church-Trinity Campus, Mt Olive AME Church, St. John 1st Missionary Baptist Chruch, and Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. The historic congregations were recognized for having over 100 years of walking in faith and joy in the Fort Myers community. The Legends Gala was the culminating Black History Month event sponsored by the Society.
Photos by Nora Potts.
Franklin Park Magnet School’s Student Ambassadors and Young Gentlemen’s Club, hosted its third annual Franklin Park Black History Read-In last month. The 2019 theme was “Celebrating our Own!”
More than seventy participants were in attendance of the program that highlighted beautifully student drawn art featuring local greats like Walt Wesley, Melvin Morgan, Dr. Ann Murphy Knight, Abdul’haq Muhummed, Dr. Carrie Robinson and Veronica Shoemaker!
After serenading the audience with the Negro National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing, students unveiled their portraits of local historical and influential change agents. Seeing most of those highlighted, still alive and standing before them as living museums fascinated the students, who were excited to meet and talk with them!
The celebration also included a Black History Program in African Attire, singing of hymns, in-depth research and presentations on influential African-Americans and words of encouragement from Dr. Ann Murphy Knight!
The Read-In consisted of community members reading culturally diverse books to students. The books were then donated to the school with hopes of increasing student knowledge and positive depictions of all minorities in children’s literature.
Black History is OUR History! If you would like to join in with helping increase our collection of culturally diverse books, please email Tamara Joy Hunter at Teachonechild2@gmail.com or send books to 2323 Ford Street, Fort Myers, Florida 33916. #ItTakesaVillage
Photos by Jacquie Matthews Williams
In recognition of Black History Month, J. Colin English Elementary celebrated its 13th year of having African American’s coming into the classrooms to read to students. There was a great representation from various occupations that came out and shared their time, experiences and vast knowledge. There was representation from attorneys, clergy, retired educators, current and retired school administrators as well as a retired hospital administrator. It was greatly appreciated.
On February 11, 2019, Florida Gulf Coast University hosted Jane Elliott as a guest speaker. Ms. Elliott is a renowned teacher and lecturer.
She is well known for her Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes experiments that expose prejudice and bigotry based purely on arbitrary factors. A private lunch was held in her honor at which time Mayor Randall P. Henderson, Jr. demonstrated his appreciation for diversity and inclusion by giving the key to the city to this iconic human rights champion. The Mayor was joined by some of the members of his Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee. The committee met following the lunch to continue its ongoing discussions relative to diversity, equity and inclusion. The committee is led by a steering committee comprised of Dr. Peter Ndiagn’ui, Chair, Beth Countryman, Vice Chair, Kathy Dupuy-Bruno, Esq., Secretary, Dr. Guido Minaya and Roy Kennix.
In addition, Imam M. Al-Darsani, Michele Hylton-Terry, Diana Girardo, Pam LaRiviere, Dan Oberski, Martin Byrd, Cole Caruso, Reverend CJ McGregor, Leonardo Garcia, Bev Larson and Sunny Lubner are nominated members of the committee.
The entire committee will be introduced to the public in April 2019.
By Keesha Allen
When people see brown girls dance, they think hip hop. The performing arts program at Quality Life Center introduces students to multiple genres of dance, beginning with ballet. With the solid foundation of technique learned in ballet, students gain a strong base for learning other styles. Like most dance studios, Q students practice in leotards.
From the moment I saw a picture of ballerinas with brown leotards, I knew I wanted them for my dancers. I was excited opening the package, and began helping the girls find the shade of brown to match their skin.
“This looks like poop,” said one student.
It was time for a chat.
How to convince young brown girls to embrace their skin color? That everybody’s color is beautiful? That they are beautiful? While it is finally at least possible to find beautiful representations of women of color in magazines and movies, it is also true that the market for skin-lightening cream is still booming.
The performing arts program at the Q is meant to provide exposure and instruction in different types of dance to students of any shade and any body shape. But the goals also include confidence and self-esteem. So I sat with these children, and together we talked about their differences, their value, and what makes each of them unique and beautiful.
When the dancers put on their leotards and walked across the beach for their photo shoot, you could see the confidence in their posture, in the way they moved. They exhibited not just acceptance of the richness of their complexions, but strength and beauty.
THAT is the power of performing arts. You can catch Q dancers at various events throughout the year, including Martin Luther King Day at Centennial Park, ArtFest, and at the Q’s summer camp performance of Lion King in August.
Keesha Allen is the Performing Arts Director at Quality Life Center
Brown Girls Can
Life can be a struggle. There’s no reason to go it alone. Come join your sisters at Brown Girls Can, a networking event for women. The evening will feature music by DJ Red Dog, vendors, a little bit of networking and a lot of fun. This is an event created by friends who support and encourage each other.
One woman found her life turned upside down, and suddenly she was on her own raising 4 children with no resources. She cleaned up her credit and bought a house. She shared what she learned with another friend who did the same. She met a nurse who guided her through the process of getting into school for nursing.
Whether you have knowledge or a skill to share, have a business to get off the ground, or are looking for support, all women who want something better are welcome.
About the name: This is not limited to African-American women. Because come on, nobody is really black, and nobody is really white. We are all just shades of brown. So no matter what your hue, stop judging, and start empowering.