Amherst’s Black History Month celebrations begin Saturday

Staff Writer
Saturday, February 11, 2017

AMHERST — A ceremonial raising of the Black Liberation Movement flag in front of Town Hall takes place Saturday morning, kicking off a month of events in Amherst that will commemorate Black History Month.

Beginning at 11 a.m., participants will sing the black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and then listen to a reading of the Select Board proclamation that urges “all residents to mark this occasion, and to participate fittingly in its observance.”

People are encouraged to bring noisemakers to make joyful noise, while there will also be comments offered by community leaders.

This marks the third year that the flag is being raised

Judy Brooks, who has helped organize the event, said marking Black History Month is more important than ever with a continuing struggle for equality and freedom for black Americans.

The Select Board proclamation notes accomplishments of African-Americans. They include Phillis Wheatley, the first African-American to publish a book of poetry in the United States; Edmonia Lewis, the first professional African-American sculptor; pioneering scholar W.E.B Du Bois and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

Meanwhile, the group Coming Together Amherst will have an event at the Jones Library Feb. 16 at 7 p.m., beginning with a video talk by journalist Jose Antonio Vargas titled “Actions Are Illegal, Never People,” in which he will tell his story of living in the shadows as an undocumented immigrant.

After his talk, participants will break into smaller groups to advance work on four anti-racism action projects.

Other events this month include:

On Saturday, Feb. 18, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Jones Library, an event titled “Contemporary Sheroes: Making Shestory,” organized by Citizens for Race Amity Now.

On Sunday, Feb. 26 from 2 to 4 p.m., “When Movements Unite for Climate Justice,” is co-sponsored by the Amherst NAACP, Climate Action Now and Coming Together at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst, 120 North Pleasant St. Jacqueline Patterson, director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, will be the main speaker.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com