Washington groups organize Black History Month events

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Community leaders are organizing Washington’s first Black History Month “crawl” by bringing together several local civic institutions to share stories and offer lessons on the past.


The crawl on Friday night will include stops at the LeMoyne Community Center, Washington Health System Teen Outreach and the LeMoyne House before culminating with an art exhibit at Wash Arts.


Wash Arts board President Rueben Brock wanted to incorporate the community groups into a “concentrated effort” of multiple events in one night to celebrate Black History Month.


“I thought it was a novel idea,” Brock said. “Luckily, we have other organizations who thought it’d be cool. I think it’ll be a groundbreaking event for Washington.”


All of the events are free to the public, and no reservations are needed.


LeMoyne Community Center is the first stop Friday night and will be open for visitors from 5 to 6:30 p.m. LeMoyne Center Executive Director Joyce Ellis said their station will emphasize arts and education by trailblazing students who broke through segregation. There also will be showings of film documentaries about the history of the center, located at 200 Forrest Ave. in East Washington.


“We are excited to have these other entities on board because the more people know, the better,” Ellis said. “In my opinion, this is how it should be. We all should be working together. Black history isn’t just for African-Americans. It should be for everyone.”


Washington Health System’s Teen Outreach program will hold essay presentations from local students and announce the winners of the Black History Month written and photo essays. Students will read their essays at the Common Ground Teen Center at 53 N. College St. in Washington from 5 to 6 p.m.


At the LeMoyne House, a stop on the Underground Railroad at 49 E. Maiden St. in the city, there are plans for re-enactments. It will be open to visitors around the same time as the other venues.


Brock said Wash Arts will be the final stop on the crawl and will have local and regional arts pieces, oil paintings and sculptures. The artists who will be featured are Thaddeus Mosley, Darrell Kinsell, John Yandell, Emmai Alaquiva, Saihou Njie, Marlana Vassar and Gneticz Culture.


Wash Arts will be open from 6 to 9 p.m. Ellis said her organization is offering a shuttle service to take people without transportation from the LeMoyne Center to the new Wash Arts building at 70 South St. in Washington.


“It’s an evening where you can go out, for free, get a taste of history, see what’s happening in your community and be exposed to some really great art,” Brock said.


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