SAN BERNARDINO - Black History Month kicked off Saturday with the 44th annual Black History Parade and Expo, which for the first time was held at the National Orange Show Events Center.
For more than an hour, local schools, community groups and others marched around the events center as several hundred people watched.
It was important to honor the contributions of black forefathers, said Janise Walker, 30.
"I come out every year so we can honor our history and people who paved the way for us to do what we do today," said Walker, a Victorville resident.
She said the drive down was well worth it, but many commented on a crowd that was significantly smaller than in past years.
That was likely a result of the changed venue, which was required because of construction of the sbX bus rapid transit line and because the city is going through bankruptcy court and couldn't afford the police and other costs associated with the normal downtown route, said Councilman Rikke Van Johnson, the parade's emcee.
"It's a good place to start from," said Johnson, who during the parade kept a steady stream of dialogue - from chatting with participants to lobbying lawmakers who took part to protect a program called enterprise zones, which Gov. Jerry Brown has called wasteful.
Among the participants were state Sen. Bill Emerson and Assemblyman Mike Morell, both R-Rancho Cucamonga, and Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino - the longtime editor of the Black Voice News, who herself talked with many participants along the short route.
The parade was sponsored by the Southern California Black Chamber of Commerce and featured Jim Pickens Jr. of the ABC drama "Grey's Anatomy" as grand marshal.
The expo portion of the day included booths and performances of gospel music and poetry.
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