ANTIOCH -- It's important to remember the past when looking toward the future.

That's one of the messages the East County chapter of the NAACP hopes comes across during a Black History Month celebration at 3 p.m. Saturday at Antioch Church Family.

The nonpartisan civil rights organization's event, titled "A Generation Moving Forward: Look How Far We've Come," will include a living timeline that shows the significance of African-Americans in U.S. history over the centuries, said event chairwoman Velma Wilson.

"We kind of chose that theme based on President (Barack) Obama's theme of moving forward," Wilson said. "To move forward for the generation ahead, we have to look at some of the triumphs and what's been accomplished."

It's also important to remember struggles that African-Americans have overcome, such as slavery, segregation and emancipation, and that it not be in vain, Wilson said. Too many predominantly African-American communities are plagued by gun violence, unsafe neighborhoods and lack of education, she said.

"It's time for African-Americans to take their own place and strive forward. We can't feel like we have to be complacent," Wilson said.

Several elected officials will speak at the celebration, including county Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho of Discovery Bay, state Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, Antioch Mayor Wade Harper and Councilwoman Monica Wilson.

The program will also include several musical tributes, reciting of traditional African poems, and a group of three Antioch sixth-graders performing the black national anthem.

Antioch's election of Harper and Wilson as the city's first black mayor and first black female councilwoman, respectively, is a "huge accomplishment" locally, Velma Wilson said.

"It speaks volumes. It's important to hear them and support and rally behind them," she said.

Other local Black History Month celebrations include an event at Jack London Elementary on Feb. 28, featuring Grammy-awarding recording artist Sheila E.

Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.

IF YOU GO
What: East County NAACP Black History Month
Celebration
When: 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Antioch Church Family, 55 E. 18th St., Antioch