By J. K. Schmid
Special to AFRO

The Randallstown Community Center hosted “Black History: Honoring African Americans,” a program billed as “Lifting Up Our Community,” and “A Journey Through Our Legacy,” was a four-hour parade of tribute, dance, music and storytelling.

Unifying the history of Black excellence with the present, the event’s story of “legacy” and “journeys” also aimed to bring national and international models and ideals of Black heroism back home, to Randallstown.

Students of Randallstown Elementary perform and celebrate Black History / Performer Dimitri Reeves. (Photos by J. K. Schmid)

“We are honoring Black history makers that, oftentimes, you may not know about, doing good things within the community,” Adrienne A. Jones, the first Black legislator and first woman to serve as Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, said in her opening remarks

Honorees of the day were Stacey L. Rodgers, the first Black woman appointed to Baltimore County administration officer; Gail M. Watts, appointee to director of corrections, Baltimore County; director of human resources, Baltimore County; James R. Benjamin Jr., the first Black attorney for Baltimore County; Deborah Risper, director, office of community engagement, Baltimore County; and Troy Williams, chief of the newly created Baltimore County office of diversity and inclusion.

“People who are the first, clear the path for all after them” Kendrick Tilghman, president of the Baltimore County African-American Cultural Festival, read from the award’s inscription. The cultural festival was founded 24 years ago by Speaker Jones.

Students of Randallstown Elementary perform and celebrate Black History / Performer Dimitri Reeves. (Photos by J. K. Schmid)

The celebration of the current moment was enmeshed in a history of Black struggle and success from Ava Dance Troupe and Womb Works interpretive dance tributes to Harriet Tubman, Sandra Pace and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

A spectacular show was performed by students of Randallstown Elementary School. A song and dance routine in traditional clothing celebrated and demanded recognition for Black and African achievements of all kinds. 

Dimitri Reeves, known to some as the “Michael Jackson protestor” who moonwalked to “Beat It” atop a North Avenue box truck during the Freddie Gray uprising, entertained the crowd with a musical tribute to the King of Pop, James Brown and a personal number.

The event, organized by Baltimore County leaders and citizens, is the first of its kind.

“Let’s all come together towards achieving our goals,” Dean A. Scott, Ph. D., founder of The Black History Program, wrote in a message to attendees of the inaugural event. “That’s how we maintain. Challenge each other to be better, communicate with each other in love and be of ‘service’ to one another. Be kind and allow the machine to bind us together. Be respectful and let’s put the work together to better serve our communities. We all have the responsibility to help someone. God gave all of us a purpose.”

The Black History program continued at Randallstown Community Center March 7 with a “Women’s HerStory Celebration.” Guests included Dr. Kaye Wise Whitehead, host of WEAA’s “Today with Dr. Kaye,” and documentary filmmaker and Loyola Professor and Speaker Adrienne A. Jones.