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Volume 15, Issue 25  | March 28, 2023Subscribe

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African American history celebrated in Laguna Beach for a great cause

By Dr. Rebecca Lindsey

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”–Maya Angelou

To better understand why our world, society and community regrettably faces racial turmoil of all kinds, there remains a need to embrace all by becoming knowledgeable about people from diverse ethnic backgrounds. They too have shaped and shared in the building of our society, communities and world. Even in the ethnic communities where diversity is categorically underrepresented, there remains a need to understand, acknowledge and celebrate diversity as there is an integral link between our past, present and future; all of which may potentially lead to erroneous perceptions, biases and inquisitiveness. When noticing that which is known, we are quick to jump to stereotypes. For example, I faced this phenomenon while browsing in one of Laguna’s off-scale stores when a sales lady stated, “I’d better follow her around our store; they are known to grab and run.” Her words slipped because she lacks cultural awareness. A topic that I would cover in a pop-up presentation. My husband, Roy, always says, “When you learn better, you do better.” Which takes me back to the recurring question of “Why African American history should be celebrated, after all we get along, or do we?” Let’s talk about that.

African American unity

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Submitted photos

“Unity” by Anzonette, Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach

Let me be clear, American history is black and white. Thus, Carter G. Woodson, educator, became angered that history books ignored historical facts of Black Americans. It was his goal to acknowledge the achievements of Blacks in our country, society and communities. In 1926, he sought to change the narrative, and founded Negro History Month, which is now Black/African American History Month which became official in 1976. This event allows us to acknowledge the long arduous achievements of African Americans. Next, consider the special moment honoring, remembering and celebrating Col. Paris Davis, who received a Medal of Honor for his heroic mission during the Vietnam War. His nomination became mysteriously “lost” twice, but, 60 years later, he was finally honored, thanks to President Biden. Therefore, an African American art mural was unveiled in Miami-Dade, Florida and in other cities followed. Subsequently came the passage of Juneteenth (now a legal holiday). Finally, Bloody Sunday, a significant event which advocated voting rights for all African Americans, was recently remembered in Selma, Ala. in February during Black History Month ( history-month).

Joining in an African American history event forms friendships. Charles Spurgeon said, “Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend.” The African American history celebration goes beyond remembering Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and John Lewis to highlighting the works of such individuals as Mary McLeod Bethune, educator/activist (1875-1955) and Katherine Johnson, scientist (1918-2020), profiled in the film Hidden Figures. Let us not forget inventors who are a significant part of our daily lives. For example, Garett Morgan in 1923 invented the three-light signal; Alexander Miles invented the automatic elevator doors in 1887; Charles Drew (1904-1950) physician, surgeon and medical researcher who was instrumental with helping the Red Cross and blood transfusions; Bubba Wallace (2021-present), first African American to win a NASCAR Cup and then there is Sir Lewis Hamilton who also won at NASCAR. 

African American love

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“Love” by Nicole, Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach

African American history in 2023 became a vital event for our Laguna Beach community. One evening we traced different eras of Black history only to discover that my history was also your history. The visual essence of African Americans, plus children’s art from our own Boys & Girls Club were shown as was the marvelous artwork by Henry Rousseau, and other African and African Americans, all of which carry strong African American history messages. We all enjoyed music by local artists and guests.

African American laundry day

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“Laundry Day” by Henry Rousseau

Now you understand why the Laguna Beach community celebrated two ethnic events: Unveiling Multiethnic Artworks in January and Black/African American history in February. We all need to remember that African American history is essential for our society and community. Celebrating African American history ushers in friendship.

Dr. Rebecca Washington Lindsey is a researcher, writer and well-known in the educational profession. She has written past articles on the topic of ethnic diversity and artworks, along with African American/Black history.


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In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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