Every week for the remainder of the month, organizations across Calhoun County will host numerous events celebrating Black History Month.
“I encourage everyone to come out and celebrate with us at these events,” Georgia Calhoun, organizer of the 38th annual Black Heritage Festival, said on Tuesday.
Calhoun said she started the festival when she worked at the Anniston Museum of Natural History. The festival will be held at the Longleaf Botanical Gardens on Feb. 17.
“I was the first black person to work there,” she said. “I realized there were no blacks coming to the museum and I told the director ‘I’ve got to get my people out here some way.’”
Without any knowledge of how the event would be received, Calhoun organized the first heritage festival and has kept doing so for the past 38 years.
“This year the theme is ‘poems of the past, whispers of our ancestors,’” she said. “We’re using poems written by people who have been through the struggle, by people who were born into hardship and wrote from their soul.”
Students from across Calhoun County will recite those poems, Calhoun said.
“We’ll have the children’s recitation competition, music, a choir and African-inspired vendors,” she said.
The following day, the Jacksonville Community Center will host the Black History Celebration and on Feb. 27 Jacksonville State University will hold its own celebration at Leone Cole Auditorium.
Reginald Tiller, superintendent of the Freedom Riders National Monument, said no specific events were planned for the month but encouraged people to stop by the monument’s Gurnee Avenue site. Calhoun also encouraged those curious about civil rights history to take a tour of the city via the Anniston Civil Rights Trail.