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City highlights black history events

Bloomington prepares to finish month-long celebration


By Anu Kumar

From a signature kick-off event in city hall to the gala at the end of the month, Bloomington has a strong tradition of celebrating Black History month.

This year marks the ninth year of Bloomington hosting city-wide events.  

“Every year, we talk about celebrating Black History month Bloomington style because we understand Bloomington as a unique community, and we do things a little bit different than everyone else,” said Beverly Anderson, safe and civil city director.

Under the Safe and Civil City Program, the Bloomington Black History Steering Community spearheads event-planning for the month.

“It’s a moment to highlight what we celebrate all year long,” Beverly Smith, co-chair of the committee, said.

The committee starts planning the preceding fall season, which includes brainstorming ideas for events, organizing subcommittees and coordinating with other organizations, said William Hosea, co-chair of the committee.   

The month traditionally includes a kick-off event with a keynote speaker, and the series of events ends with a gala. The other events that occur in between the two signature events vary from year to year.

Anderson said this year’s theme, “Lessons in Leadership,” celebrates the multitude of diverse backgrounds from which leaders can come from.  

“It’s all based on community interest, what the community would like to see and the ideas that are brought to the steering committee,” Smith said. “We also take a look at surveys from individuals in the community.”

The committee also programmed a lecture with Logan Westbrooks, who spoke about black leadership in the music industry.

“Our goal is to be educational, inspirational and entertaining,” Anderson said.
The committee also works to stay relevant; this year they hosted a political forum to discuss President Barack Obama’s second term.

“We talked about how to stay politically engaged during the off season,” Anderson said.

The programs strive to include a variety of demographics through its events such as the Black History Month Essay Contest. The contest recognizes a winner in the elementary school, middle school and high school categories, Smith said.

The gala, which will take place Saturday, will end the month of celebration and honor the 2013 Bloomington Living Legend and the Outstanding Black Male Leaders of Tomorrow award winners. The award recognizes both our past and future, Anderson said.

“It’s valuable to the entire community. As we say every year, it’s not just black history — it’s American history,” Anderson said.

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