Lake City Reporter: Festival commemorates contributions of black Americans

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With the smooth sounds of reggae, a table spread out with a banquet of soul food, and plenty of performances, the Black History Month Festival at Lake City Community College was the place to be Wednesday.

The festival was held at the Alfonso Levy Performing Arts Center and was one of the final events hosted by the college in commemoration of Black History Month.

Several of LCCC’s student organizations hosted booths outside the center highlighting different contributions of black Americans.

The College Choir Club’s booth focused on the contributions of blacks to music.

“African-Americans gained popularity in every style of music there is,” said member Mike Cadel. “They also influenced new genres of music like jazz, rock’n’ roll and hip hop.”

The Future Teachers Club presented a display of black contributions during the 80s.

Member Teresa Allison learned something she never knew about tennis player Arthur Ashe.

“When Ashe revealed that he had AIDS, I always assumed he was gay,” she said. “I learned through my research that he contracted the disease through a blood transfusion.”

The festival also included a “Taste of Soul” food contest where students, faculty and staff could submit their favorite dishes for judging.

After the contest, the food was shared with all who attended.

Among the dishes were chicken and rice, jambalya, candied yams, biscuits, fried chicken, banana pudding and chocolate cake.

Inside the center, event attendees enjoyed a musical program with performances by the Columbia County Seniors Kitchen Band.

The group performed numerous favorites like “This Little Light of Mine,” “God Bless America” and “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

They sang to the audience while playing noise makers, tambourines and wash boards.

In addition, the senior aerobics class from Mount Pisgah A.M.E. Church performed a short routine for the audience.

The Rev. Mark Crutcher from Bethel A.M.E. Church in Pensacola, delivered the keynote address titled, “Proud Builders of Proud Nations.”

Crutcher spoke about the accomplishments of black Americans in every aspect of business and industry in the country.

“Black history is a strong part of American history,” he said. “We are woven in the fabric of our heritage.”

Crutcher said that when people ask why there is a need for Black History Month, he points to the history books.

“Until our history is correct in the history books, we can’t stop celebrating during February,” he said.

Crutcher also touched on slavery and its impact on the entire country.

“Slave labor helped build the White House itself,” he said. “We indirectly built many industries in this country but were not compensated.”

He pointed out the lack of attendance in the large center as evidence that change still needs to happen.

“This place should be full of students, regardless of their race,” he said. “When I hear the name ‘George Washington,’ I cheer, not because he looks like me, but because he is part of my American history.”

Real diversity exists when people of different backgrounds come to celebrate each other, and not simply retreat to their own corner, Crutcher said.

He said that society needs to realize that blacks have been free less time than they were in slavery, and only received the right to vote recently.

“We were forced to leave our home, culture and resources,” he said. “After 300 years of seeing our children sold and torn away from us and being told we are not even human, it is not surprising to see that we may have issues to work out.”

Crutcher said that blacks are still trying to rediscover themselves.

“We have to remind people, ‘Please excuse our dust, we’re under construction,” he said.

–Ashley Cisneros
Ashley Cisneros is a co-founder of Chatter Buzz Media, an Orlando Internet marketing firm that helps companies and organizations engage with their target markets through inbound marketing via the Internet. Chatter Buzz Media, which won the Social Madness competition for the Orlando small business market, is a full-service digital marketing firm specializing in website design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and content creation. Prior to founding Chatter Buzz, Ashley worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, technical writer, marketing manager, public relations practitioner and freelance journalist. To see Ashley’s content writing, visit You can also reach Ashley on her Google profile.

About the Author:

Ashley Cisneros Mejia is a journalist, entrepreneur and marketer. She began her career as a newspaper reporter and later as an editor at Florida Trend business magazine. Ashley has worked as a professional freelance writer since 2009, as a technical writer, marketing manager, and public relations practitioner. She also founded two digital marketing agencies in Orlando. Named one of Orlando’s 40 Under 40 and honored by the Women’s Executive Council of Orlando for achievements in media and communications, Ashley earned a B.S. in Journalism and an M.S. in Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida.

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