ALAMEDA -- Alameda schools have put together different events for students and community members as part of Black History Month, including a gospel concert, community picnic and student assembly.
Though there are some misconceptions about why Black History Month is celebrated in February, the recognition is tied to the birthdates of President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, according to Dexter Moore, coordinator for educational equity and family engagement at Encinal High School.
Encinal will celebrate the month with Gospel Explosion from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Friday on campus. This free concert will be followed by a community gathering at Washington Park from 12 to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Students in the Black Student Union at Encinal and Alameda High School have worked together to organize and publicize the events, Moore said.
"Last year, we had a film discussion at Ruby Bridges Elementary in cooperation with the African American Museum and Library at Oakland," Moore said. "It facilitated a conversation that was open to the community."
This year's gospel show will take place in the Encinal cafeteria. "We'll have performances by groups from all over the Bay Area," Moore said. The Olivet Missionary Church Choir, Jimmie Reign, JG, Arising Generation, Drew Allen and others will sing on stage.
"Two officers of the Encinal Black Student Union, seniors Samantha Jackson and Simone Bremond, will serve as hosts and will start the singing of the Black National Anthem to begin the concert," he said. "We hope some of our Junior Jets, from the middle-school magnate, also will perform."
On Saturday, Encinal is hosting a community picnic at Washington Park.
"It's a community celebration with three-on-three basketball for kids 13 and younger and players 14 and older," Moore said.
In addition, there will be a kids' zone with inflatable jumping areas and craft activities, along with a DJ and live entertainment.
"We'll have an open mic, so community members can sing, read poetry and share their talents," he noted. "We ask everyone to please bring some food or refreshments to share."
Meanwhile, Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School will honor those working at the Port Chicago munitions factory 70 years ago, when a blast killed 320 African-American men and others and also injured about 400 people at the facility near Concord.
Spencer Sikes II, who graduated from Saint Joseph in 1981 and now has a son at the school, will talk to the student body on Feb. 13 about his father, who worked at the Navy munitions base in 1944.
He will be joined by Morris Soublet, another alumnus and a former faculty member, whose father also worked at Port Chicago. The assembly will feature performances organized by the African American Student Association at the school.