Once again, the annual Black History Month Commemoration hosted by Southwest Philadelphia District Services (SWPDS) February 27 was a rousing success, drawing over 100 attendees to the upper floor auditorium of the Kingsessing Recreation Center at 51st Street and Kingsessing Avenue. The event was facilitated and MC’d by Eric K. Grimes/Brother Shomari author, educator, activist, and host of GROUNDINGS on WURD Radio (96.1FM/900AM) on Fridays from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. and Sundays, 6:00 – 8:00 pm.
As is the custom, the event opened with a libation ritual that included the eldest and youngest attendees in the room. It featured an array of talented performers offering their gifts to the assembled crowd in celebration and commemoration of Black History Month. The gathering also highlighted the accomplishments of many Philadelphians to the city’s history.
The gala festival proceeded with a spirited singing of Lift Every Voice and Sing (the Black National Anthem), led by Jenae LeRoi, and featured uplifting healing dance movements and chants from The Black Genez Queens and RARE Genius Productions Creative Arts Collective. Many of the Black women in the room of all ages joined in and participated!
A young performer from Music Is SOUL Good, a youth music education program housed at Kingsessing Recreation Center, brought down the house with his acapella renditions of Michael Jackson’s Man In The Mirror and Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna’ Come.
Handcrafted copper jewelry with healing crystals, artwork, fellowship, family, fun, and food were abundant, along with BHM facts and a ‘community quiz’ that offered a “village” learning opportunity focused on the contributions of such luminaries as Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, Octavius Catto, Marcus Foster, and many others with ties to making history in Philadelphia.
Retired City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell was in attendance and offered closing remarks. Mike Ross of SWPDS extended his appreciation to program attendees and participants. Everyone present was grateful for the efforts of Southwest Philadelphia District Services in offering Kwanzaa and Black History Month commemorations to the community on an annual basis.
All the information for this article was graciously provided by Brother Shomari of WURD.