Celebrating light

Published 12:59 am Friday, February 26, 2010

Without African Americans, we would all be in the dark. Literally.

Lewis Howard Latimer patented a method in 1881 to produce the carbon filament used in light bulbs. Of the numerous inventions that Irvin Ussin, second grade student at Cedar Park Elementary, read at Ward 4’s second annual Black History Celebration Thursday, Irvin finds Latimer’s invention is the most interesting.

“I find it interesting because it is light and it would be harder without it because we wouldn’t be able to see and we would be in the dark,” Irvin said.

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Other modern conveniences such as the hairbrush, ironing board and idea of a blood bank are inventions of African Americans.

“If it wasn’t for those people, we wouldn’t have such an easy life,” Irvin said. Informing people of this information is important to Irvin. “I’m the same color as them and it feels good to let everybody know who they are.”

The first of a two-day celebration, Thursday’s event was titled Expressions because it showcased the many ways people express themselves, such as through praise, drama, oration, poetry, debate, promenade, performance and display.

“The purpose of the program was to allow the expressions of the young and old alike to see what they community has to offer,” said Ward 4 Councilwoman Angela Benjamin.

Community members ranging in age from students attending schools in Ward 4, such as Clark Elementary, Cedar Park Elementary and Concordia College, to senior African American women participated in the more than 10 aspects of the program.

Cedar Park students Jayda Armstrong, Tamia Witherspoon and Aireal Brown lip-synched to a song from “Dream girls” and an Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.”

“I thought these two songs were great because it shows that you can put your mind to anything,” Aireal said. The girls also performed this routine at the school’s Black History program Thursday.

Part two, titled Black Man Heal, will bring together a panel to discuss a holistic healing of African American men and boys for a symposium at noon Friday at the Performing Arts Center. Keynote speaker Chester L. Marshall, author of “Black Man Heal” and founder of the Institute for African Man Development, Inc., will intertwine all themes of the symposium with a presentation on the psychological development and struggles of African American men and boys. Marshall will also have a book signing at 6 p.m. with music performed by Jazz Master Terry Chestnut and The Cool Jazz Café at the Performing Arts Center. Free childcare will be provided in the auditorium.

Benjamin invites everyone who touches the lives of African American men and boys to attend the symposium Friday.

“When I say community, I mean the whole community,” Benjamin said. “I want them all to come out.”