Several dozens of Mercedians convened Sunday afternoon at the Merced College Theater to celebrate Black History Month.
The theme for this year’s event was “March on Washington,” in remembrance of the march’s 50th anniversary. The event, which went from 3 to 5 p.m., included several gospel, dance, poetry and musical performances.
Among those in the audience was Merced resident Chavella Dobbins, who found the event joyful. She said the event let the community know who black people are and what they can do.
“It represents not the negatives of black people, but the positives of black people,” she said.
More events, such as Sunday’s are needed in the community because of the unity, Dobbins said. “It brings people together,” she said.
Several people were awarded a certificate of appreciation for their positive contributions to the community. One of them was Sun-Star photographer Marci Stenberg, who recently died. During the event, there was also a moment of silence in her honor and a song was dedicated for her as well.
Others recognized included, President Barack Obama and First Lady, Michelle Obama, California’s Gov. Jerry Brown, and Merced College President Ron Taylor, among others in the local community.
Kendall Wright, a UC Merced student who was part of the event, said the country has made a lot of progress in its civil rights, but despite Obama’s second inauguration, more work remains to be accomplished.
“I can only speculate that (Martin Luther King Jr.) would share the same sentiments,” he said.
This was the second year the Student Organization Unified Leadership club, known as SOUL, at Merced College organized the event, said Antoine Hubbard, president of the club.
Anywhere between 80 and 100 members of the community attended the event, and organizers were pleased with the turnout, Hubbard said. “It was a good program,” he said. “It showed the diversity in the community.”
Los Banos resident Jessica McDaniels, 17, performed a dance during the event. She said it’s important to celebrate this country’s history with events like Sunday’s.
“I think it’s very important, not just for exposure, but it’s also very important just so kids can be involved,” the Pacheco High School senior said.
Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209)385-2482, or firstname.lastname@example.org.