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Beachwood Families Celebrate Black History Month

Diversity Matters celebrated Black History Month on Sunday Feb. 17 at Beachwood Middle School.
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The celebration featured local artists, challenging speakers and soul food.
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“Diversity Matters is a parent group made up largely of African American families who try to create community and positive connections with the school district,” explained social studies teacher and DAC [Differential Achievement Committee] Scholars co-adviser Greg Deegan.
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Patte Bettis-Eddie, Deegan’s co-adviser, emphasized that the organization is open to people of all cultures.
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Vendors sold an assortment of merchandise from black owned businesses.
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David Horton and his wife Patricia sold authentic African art, copper, Afghan rugs and more.
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“[This event] gives [us] a chance to really display our heritage,” said Horton.
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Another vendor, Antoinette, who did not give her last name, sold tutus and other accessories. She feels the event is a good way to learn about Black History Month.
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“[There is] a lot of positive energy, a lot of information and it’s entertaining… so why not learn and have fun at the same time?” she asked.

Colorful trifolds were set up around the room, focusing on a variety of topics, including the suffering and triumph of African American history. It was a real learning experience for people who might not know anything about the culture.

After the vendors, a presentation began in the auditorium. African drums accompanied traditional dancers.

Soon after, a series of performances celebrated the month. From playing hymns, reenactments of president Obama’s speeches and a demonstration of what the sit-ins were like in the 60s, the students conveyed a sense of pride in African-American culture.

Next the speeches began. Members of the DAC Scholars were called for recognition by BHS advisers Greg Deegan and Patte Bettis-Eddie. Scholars from Hilltop and the middle school were announced by Jason Hill and Cathy Harper.

Two proclamations were given by the city of Beachwood and by the city of Cleveland. FOX 8 News noon anchor Jennifer Jordan was the mistress of ceremony.

The Julian Earles community service award went to Ariane Kirkpatrick. She owns AKA team construction and made many accomplishments to deserve this award. The final speaker was Dr. Renee Cavor Willis. The main focus of her speech was to “close the achievement gap,”

After the final speech and a rendition of America the Beautiful, soul food was served in the cafeteria.

Participants reflected on the significance of Black History Month.

“Why just one month?” asked David Horton. “It would be nice if our culture were recognized throughout the year…then just given one particular month,” he said. He pointed out that February, set aside for Black History Month, is the shortest of the twelve months.

Some have argued that Black History Month is no longer necessary.

Bettis-Eddie feels it is important to study black history month. “I look at it as a pride thing,” she said.

 

 

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