King Holds Black History Month Kickoff

Artist Tasha Douge (left) holds up her newest piece ‘Justice’ with the help of Bronx Youth Empowerment Program member Jhaniya Smith-Butler (right)
Photo Courtesy of Councilman Andy King

Councilman Andy King held his fourth annual Black History Month celebration at Evander High School on Wednesday, February 1.

King partnered with the Bronx Youth Empowerment Program to host the event which served as a kickoff for Black History Month.

The event featured words of wisdom from keynote speakers, a poem reading by children from the Bronx Youth Empowerment Program, musical selections from students at the High School of Contemporary Arts and the unveiling of an art piece entitled ‘Justice’.

WPIX reporter Jay Dow spoke to the students in attendance – many of whom were African American – in an effort to make sure they understand what it’s like to be a black person in America and to educate them on how they can change their communities.

“All of you were lucky enough to grow up watching the nation’s first black president,” said Dow, “and you were all told that we are living in a post-racial America.”

Dow then asked the students if they believed they were living in a post-racial America.

“No”s could be heard spattered throughout the Evander library.

“People who are my age and older who are accustomed to reading newspapers and watching newscasts,” Dow continued, “We are now looking back and hoping you guys with your smartphones will carry the torch. We are hoping you can help mend this country,”

“I have one simple request,” he added. “Know your history that you can know where you’re headed.”

King encouraged the students to stay away from any types of discrimination.

“When you move around the neighborhood, when you’re in the schools, don’t discriminate against anyone,” he said. “That means leading by example because some people may not understand this.”

King also said the celebration of black history shouldn’t be relegated to a month.

“Black History Month – even though it’s dedicated to 28 days in a year – our story goes far beyond the 28 days of a calendar,” he said.

King told the students that even when they are not learning black history in school they should be educating themselves on their own time.

After King spoke, an artist named Tasha Douge unveiled a new piece called ‘Justice.’

The piece, which Douge kept in a sleeping bag before unveiling it, is an American flag made out of the hair of African American people.

Dogue, who is of Haitian descent, told the audience she was inspired by the recent political climate and President’s Trump’s campaign slogan ‘Make America Great Again.’

She said she began to ask herself, “What makes America great?”

“So, I wanted to do something that was unapologetically black,” Douge said. “I didn’t want anyone to confuse that this history, this great nation, is only great because of the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors.”

Reach Reporter Robert Christie at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at rchristie@cnglocal.com.

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