Harford County joins the rest of the country during Black History Month in February in honoring the achievements and accomplishments of African-Americans.
From Soar2Success's trip to The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture to programs at the various Harford County Public Library branches and exhibits at the Hays-Heighe House at Harford Community College, the contributions of African-Americans will be recognized in numerous ways.
The history and struggles of African-Americans is the focus of two exhibits at Harford Community College, one of which has been ongoing since November.
Voices of Change, sponsored by the Maryland Humanities Council, explores the intersection of the arts and humanities with social protest in the modern era, according to Carol Allen, director of the library at Harford Community College. Programs connected to Voices of Change, which runs through April 22, include seven lectures, two poetry jams, three film discussions, a concert and a closing Earth Day ceremony.
Using displays and programs, the exhibit is intended to stimulate thought and discussion about the ways that music, literature and visual arts have intersected with moments of social protest in the U.S. in the modern era. It is organized around four themes: war/peace; labor/economic justice; civil and human rights; and environmental issues.
"Voices of Change was locally developed. It looks at the intersection of arts and the humanities with the social protest movements within the United States in the modern era," Allen said. "There are four areas of social protest, and one of those is civil rights."
One room of the Voices of Change, that looks at human and civil rights, ties into a special traveling exhibition Allen said the Hays-Heighe House was "delighted" to get: Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863, and the March on Washington, 1963, a traveling exhibition that will be on display from Feb. 17 through March 25.
They are individual exhibits, but they are connected thematically, Allen said. When HCC submitted its application for the exhibit, they requested it for February, Black History Month.
"Of course, civil rights for all people, including for African Americans, are important all year long, but if you do programs on that topic during Black History Month, you might have a better chance of attracting more people because it's more on people's minds," Allen said.
Also part of the Voices of Change exhibit that ties in with Black History Month is "Sing Me a Dream: Music and Protest," an original, four-movement suite for a 17-piece orchestra that will be performed Saturday, Feb. 27, at 3 and 7 p.m. in Joppa Hall Recital Hall 1 at HCC.
The February concert, composed by Benny Russell, an HCC adjunct music faculty and a jazz composer and musician, features the Morgan State University Jazz Ensemble and spoken texts from Langston Hughes, Ossie Davis and James Weldon Johnson. It draws upon major texts from African American literature.
HCC will host a series of other programs in connection with Changing America, all of them in Room 243 of the Student Center.
The opening of the exhibit on Wednesday, Feb. 17, features a reception from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bill Grimmette will provide a living history of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The film "Freedom Riders" will be viewed Monday, Feb. 22 from noon to 2:30 p.m. followed by a discussion led by HCC Associate Professor of Visual Performing and Applied Arts Wayne Hepler.
Susan Muaddi-Darraj, an HCC English professor, will lead a lecture and discussion on Wednesday, Feb. 24, from noon to 1:30 p.m. titled Opposite Ends of the Spectrum: Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
On Tuesday, March 1, Christine Tolbert will lead a panel discussion, "We Lived Through It: Gaining Civil Rights in Harford County," from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
A bus trip to National Museum of American History is scheduled for Thursday, March 3, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The cost is $59; register by contacting the Continuing Education and Training Office, 443-412-2376.
Following a film screening Monday, March 7, of "The Loving Story: Love in a Time of Jim Crow" from noon to 2 p.m., Chris Kaltenbach will lead a discussion.
On Thursday, March 10, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Dr. James Karmel will lead a lecture on "Civil Rights in Harford County" and on Tuesday, March 15, there will be a film screening of "Slavery by Another Name from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Soar2Success, which offers resources to HCC's campus community on topics of diversity and multiculturalism, is sponsoring a cultural excursion for students only to The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture on today (Friday).
On Feb. 18, Soar2Success will sponsor Pinpoints Theatre in 1001 Black Inventions, a play that features the lives of brilliant men and women – then takes guests into the Twilight Zone, where a typical American family attempts to survive in a world without inventions created by Africans and African Americans. Audiences laugh themselves into the realization that black ingenuity is an integral part of their everyday lives. Showtimes are 1 and 7 p.m. in the Chesapeake Theater (snow date is Feb. 19). Tickets are free for HCC students with a valid ID; adult tickets are $3 and non-HCC student tickets are $1 at LIVEatHarfordCC.com or 443-412-2211.
Library observations, other events
On Feb. 13, the Hosanna School Museum will host "Civil War to Civil Rights: A Concert" at 1 p.m. Hear creative music compositions that span two centuries from early composers Scott Joplin, Samuel Coleridge Taylor and William Still to contemporary musicians, James Weldon Johnson, Odetta, Nina Simone, the Staple Singers and more. Tickets can be purchased through the Hosanna School Museum's website, www.hosannaschoolmuseum.org, under "Events." Space is limited. Tickets are $10; $5 for students and free for children 12 and younger. Call 410-457-4161 for more information.
Branches of the Harford County Public Library will host Black History Month celebrations throughout February.
The first is Omega Psi Phi Fraternity's book dedication from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, at the Abingdon Library. Each February, members of the Iota Nu chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity present books to the library and host a speaker.
A Freedom StoryWalk for all ages kick off 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7, at the Aberdeen Library. Visitors to each branch can walk its indoor StoryWalk, featuring "These Hands" by Margaret H. Mason. Upon completing the walk, they can add their hand prints to a Peace Wreath.
Enjoy Living History: Bessie Coleman at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, at the Edgewood Library.
The discussion will allow guests of all ages to uncover and appreciate the power, ingenuity and strength of Bessie Coleman, as portrayed by Sharon Moore. Bessie forged forward as a pioneer in territory only moderately developed, but truly dominated by white men - aviation.
Children ages 3 to 5 years old can enjoy the Anansi & Friends Story Walk from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Havre de Grace Library. Children will celebrate Black History Month and African culture with the tales of Anansi, crafts and music.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, at the Aberdeen Library, in "Stealing Freedom," historian Milt Diggins tells the story of Thomas McCreary, a notorious slave catcher and kidnapper, who roamed the Mason Dixon line. McCreary's story provides a close-up view of the toxic effects the debate over slavery had on the country in the years leading to the Civil War.