Black History Month officially begins Monday, and to celebrate, 13 local organizations are hosting a variety of virtual events beginning tonight through March 4.
This year, all events are being held virtually to stay within COVID-19 safety regulations. A full schedule of nearly 30 virtual events was created through collaboration from various local organizations, including Santa Barbara Young Black Professionals, Juneteenth Santa Barbara and Gateway Educational Services, among others.
Throughout the month, the community events include roundtable discussions, yoga instruction, cooking classes, paint nights and poetry readings.
“Black History Month is a time of recognition, reflection, learning and appreciation,” Lawanda Lyons Pruitt, president of the NAACP Santa Maria-Lompoc, said in a statement. “A time for all Americans to acknowledge the rich contributions and sacrifices made to our country by Black people. History informs us that our contributions and sacrifice are often not acknowledged in our past, including in our history books.”
The national theme for this year’s Black History Month is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity.” Event discussions are expected to reflect upon the contributions of black Americans throughout history and the recent struggles of the black community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During this time of struggle, it is the resilience of the Black family that continues to hold our communities together,” Connie Alexander, co-founder of Gateway Educational Services, said in a statement. “The celebration of diversity within our families will secure our future.”
To kick off the month of events, a follow-up conversation to UCSB’s Art and Lecture series “Race to Justice” will feature Coffee With a Black Guy Host Isabel Wilkerson at 7 p.m. tonight. Registration for the event is available at cwabg.org.
A full schedule of events for Black History Month is available at hjsb.org/events.
After a series of tragedies in 2020 shed light on racial justice issues in America, event organizers are hopeful this event will highlight the ongoing contributions of black Americans and the work that is left to be done to reach equality.
“We as black folks, as contributors to American society, have done so much and we just want to show that we are here as a community providing services, opportunities, events and joy when it’s needed,” Jordan Killebrew, co-leader of Healing Justice Santa Barbara told the News-Press. “What really should stand out is the work in diversity and conclusion is highly important and always ongoing.”