Lawrence to celebrate the ‘resilience and achievements’ of the Black community

Annual Black History Month celebration to honor four 'trailblazers' in the community

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Music, arts and food will highlight the Lawrence Township Public School District’s annual Black History Month celebration and also honor four “trailblazers” at the Feb. 24 event.

The event, which is free, runs from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Lawrence High School at 2525 Princeton Pike.

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The theme of the celebration – “Black Resilience: Upward and Onward” – pays homage to the resilience and achievements of the Black community, school district officials said.

The celebration begins in the hallway outside the auditorium. Visitors can view and buy an assortment of items from more than two dozen Black business owners.

At 3 p.m., visitors will be treated to a taste of cultural dishes featuring Southern soul food, Caribbean and African dishes. They can also take a pictorial and musical journey through Black history.

At 5 p.m., the celebration moves into the auditorium. The keynote speaker is the Rev. Charles F. Boyer, pastor of the Greater Zion AME Church in Trenton.

The program moves on to feature musical and choral performances by the Lawrence High School Madrigal, the Lawrence High School ensemble and gospel choirs, and the Lawrence High School jazz band.

There will also be special featured performances.

The highlight of the event is the presentation of Trailblazer awards, given to honorees in recognition of their contributions to the Mercer County area.

This year’s honorees include:

  • John Harmon, the founder, president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce;
  • Bernice Flynn-Addo, an entrepreneur and the owner of AfriPrintz, which sells African-inspired clothing and accessories;
  • Dionne Hallback, associate director of financial aid at The College of New Jersey in Ewing Township; and
  • Lance Lopez Sr., who is a community and veterans pioneer advocate.

Black History Month grew out of Negro History Week, which began in 1915. Historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. It researched the achievements of Black Americans.

The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History sponsored a national Negro History Week in 1926. The second week in February was chosen because it coincided with the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, who was an escaped slave and who became an Abolitionist leader.

Over time, Negro History Week evolved into Black History Month. President Gerald Ford officially designated February as Black History Month in 1976 to recognize and acknowledge the achievements of Blacks to the United States.

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