TORRINGTON — Local nonprofit organization Our Culture is Beautiful will be holding virtual events every Friday in February at 6 p.m. to discuss Black History Month.
Since 1976, Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month, has been a yearly celebration of achievements by African-Americans. It is also a time for recognizing the central role of African-Americans in the history of the United States.
The organization held its first virtual event on Friday, Feb. 5, which included several speakers talking about what Black history meant to them and its importance in the country.
“When we begin to listen, we begin to appreciate what is different about one another and then bring about change,” Organization co-founder Effie Mwando said at the beginning of the event. “When I was a young girl, my hero was tennis player Althea Gibson. I remember when I was eight-years-old how she broke the barriers. When we are educating our youth about everyone’s history, then our world will be better. Our world will be more united. We will have equality across the board.”
Organization co-founder Angaza Mwando discussed how he has been involved with several civil rights movements since the late 1960s.
He also discussed how Black History Month started, including how February was chosen as Black History Month and the late Carter G. Woodson.
Woodson was a historian and writer who founded the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History who has often been called the “father of Black history.”
In February 1926 Woodson started was originally known as “Negro History Week”
“Woodson saw that Frederick Douglass, a great abolitionist and freedom fighter, was born in February,” Angaza Mwando said. “He also saw that Abraham Lincoln, the one who freed the slaves, was also born in February. Woodson took it upon himself to study African-American culture, history, and also enlighten other people in it. He wanted people to make sure that they knew about the achievements of the Black race.”
In 1969 Black educators and students at Kent State University proposed Black History Month, which was first celebrated at the university in 1970.
“We have our Black history moments and history continues to develop as we become more conscious and more aware of what’s going on,” Angaza Mwando said. “African-American history should be taught in schools. When I was in college we would petition to have Black history as a course. This is an opportunity for us to share our culture.”
At the Feb. 5 event, Torrington High School junior, 16-year-old Rachel Piedrahita, debuted a video she created for her English class about injustice and what it meant to her.
“The first thought that came to my head was Black Lives Matter,” Rachel said. “I’ve been so blessed to not experience racism directly, but I know so many who have experienced it. My mom told me stories about when I was little about taking lessons in karate class about me being treated differently. Now it’s more of a silent trend than something direct. So I wanted to highlight that and how it does affect people, all solely based on the color of their skin.”
The next Black History Month event by Our Culture is Beautiful will be held this Friday, Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Our-Culture-is-Beautiful-2399879000241046