Black history ‘Celebration’ enlightens, entertains

Maria Okeke, professor of health sciences, coordinated the 9th annual “Celebrate Black History in 2006: A Tribute to The National Association of Colored Women and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.”

“I believe that the event went very well,” Okeke said.

“As long as (the students) would take what the speakers said and use it in their daily life to make something out of themselves…and also to do something for the community so that when they die, they would be remembered for something.”

Anthony Viegbesie, a professor of economy and public administration at Tallahassee Community College and Florida A&M University, gave an inspiring speech titled “Freedom is not Free.”

“I am concerned because there is an epidemic in African-Americans,” Viegbesie said. “A disease is spreading rapidly called ‘negro amnesia.’ African-Americans have forgotten where they have come from.”

Viegbesie stressed in his speech how civil rights leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, fought for the rights of African-Americans to have equality, and yet, individuals in the race seek to do nothing but advance themselves and not the entire African-American community.

“This is the first generation of blacks that will give its children less than what it has. The struggle is not over. Don’t act like the mission has been accomplished,” said Viegbesie, who is running for city commission.

Sharon Dennard, director and co-founder of Sakkara Youth Institute Independent School, also gave a speech stressing the importance of education.

She said that life is short and we should make every minute of it count.

“Sixty-one percent of African-American children can not read and 70 percent of African-American children grow up without a father,” Dennard said.

“Everything that we do should count for something substantial and significant in the interest for propelling not only yourself, but that of your people and your community.”

Sharday Williams, an attendee of the event, said she felt that everything went really well and she left inspired.

“I felt all the speakers did really well and gave good points and views on what we, as black people, should do to advance our race,” said Williams, 20, a sophomore elementary education student from Jacksonville.

“I want to learn more about the people that were before me, like black inventors. I didn’t know we (blacks) invented so many things we use daily, such as the ironing board.”

Students involved in the program performed skits that gave the background of past leaders and inventors in the NACW and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

Cheresa Bradley, who participated in the African dance and recited Maya Angelou’s famous poem “Phenomenal Woman,” said she believes that the NACW has paved the way for African-American woman.

“(NACW) has given us, as African-American women, a great opportunity to receive an education,” said Bradley, 20, a junior nursing student from Boynton Beach.

The NACW was established in Washington, D.C. in 1896 and founded by Harriet Tubman, Frances E.W. Harper, Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, and March Church Terell.

The mission of NACW is “to furnish evidence of the moral, mental and material progress made by people of color through the efforts of women.”

The Alpha’s were invited to give a brief history on the organization which was founded in 1906.

The planned speaker for Alpha Phi Alpha, Philip Agnew, 21, a junior business administration student from Chicago, was unable to speak due to a family emergency.

Contact Brent Hatchett at