A new committee is bringing a new celebration of Black History Month to the community later this week.
The Executive Committee For African American Cultural Events, a newly formed consortium under the Longmont Multicultural Action Committee focused on bringing virtual and in-person Black and African American-centered events to Boulder County and the larger Colorado community, will host its inaugural event on Saturday.
The free event seeks to “highlight and celebrate Black history, past, present and future, and reflect on the countless contributions bestowed upon our nation from members of the African diaspora,” according to a news release.
Madelyn Strong Woodley, organizer and longtime civil and social justice advocate, said the goal of the event is to educate the community on Black history and celebrate contributions from members of the local African American and Black communities, including the work of Charleszine “Terry” Nelson and Warren Washington, who will be presented Lifetime Service awards.
The virtual event also will feature a performance by the Rev. Nathaniel Black, a special presentation by the Wither’s Collection Museum and Gallery in Memphis, Tennessee, according to the flyer.
“A great portion of our intent is to educate people on the African American culture and to grow this awareness,” Strong Woodley said. “We have many African American Boulderites, Longmonites or Denverites who have made significant contributions to the community, all within this close community and yet, within Boulder County, I’m finding that we are the least known for the things we have done, not just to make Boulder County better, but have made Colorado better and the world better.”
The Executive Committee For African American Cultural Events is the culmination of the work of the city’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Planning Committee has done over the past 16 years organizing the annual MLK event, according to Strong Woodley.
According to Adriana Perea, community relations specialist at the city and Longmont Multicultural Action Committee coordinator, Black History Month should be seen as a "starting point" to incorporating Black history into American history as a whole.
“As a community, we need to continue moving towards promoting African American history to a broader audience,” she said. “There are still too many who only recognize Black history during February and ignore it for the rest of the year.”
Much of what this committee will be doing is building awareness by focusing on five pillars: education, celebration, tribute, solidarity and service, Strong Woodley said.
“We will be compiling a … collection of outstanding people who are still with us,” she said.
“I can't teach the boulder white people all about Black people and what we have done, I don't have that kind of time. So what I hope to do is just give them a drop… hoping this will inspire people to go and find out more.”
This free virtual presentation is the first of a series of events that will be launched through the initiative, with the support of Longmont Multicultural Action Committee, the Boulder County NAACP, the Boulder Human Relations Commission, and other organizations, Strong Woodley said, adding the consortium will present a Juneteenth celebration this year and bring the Dr. Ernest Withers collection to the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder in January.
All Cultures, One Voice, a slogan developed by Strong Woodley and Carmen Ramirez, community and neighborhood resources manager at the city of Longmont, for the MLK Day Celebration over a decade ago, continues to be the guiding force behind the efforts of the committee, she said.
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was not about one particular race. He represented and worked and had his life taken for all people, fighting for all people’s social and civil justice,” Strong Woodley said. “This is something I'd like to clarify, clean up misconceptions a lot of people have.”
The Black History Month Boulder County Celebration will be livestreamed via YouTube from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and everyone across the Boulder County community is invited to join, Strong Woodley said. Registration is required and can be completed here.
“Hopefully we will have people from one end of the world to the other, but my primary focus is going to be right here in my town, the one I chose as my home, Longmont, Colorado,” she said. “Like I have said many times, I’m tired of being invisible … if you can't see my physical presence then I hope my work will speak for itself and will have the effect to improve life for our children.