Exhibits, festivals in the works for Black History Month

Here’s a look at some of the Black History Month activities planned throughout February in Volusia and Flagler counties.

Black Cowboys exhibit
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the traveling exhibit: “Florida’s Black Cowboys: Past and Present” is scheduled at 11 a.m. Feb. 1 at Matanzas High School. The exhibit, presented by the Florida Agricultural Museum in Palm Coast, is scheduled to tour all nine Flagler County public schools until the 2016 school year ends in June.

The exhibit will then travel through all branches of the St. Johns County Public Library System followed by a tour of other venues currently being arranged.

It chronicles the centuries-long participation of Africans and African-Americans in Florida’s cattle industry. It examines two under-appreciated aspects of Florida history – the origins and growth of the cattle industry, and the important roles of Black cattlemen and cowboys in developing that industry.

Freemanville Day Ceremony
The 13th Annual Freemanville Day Ceremony is Feb. 9 at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, 941 N. Orange Ave. The service, which honors Port Orange’s African-American heritage, starts at 4 p.m.
The ceremony is hosted in partnership with the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church and the Port Orange Historical Trust.

In 1867, Dr. John Milton Hawks, a Union Army surgeon, and his fellow Union Army officers established Port Orange after the Civil War.  The U.S. Postal Service officially recognized the community at noon on April 26, 1867.  Initially, 500 former slaves settled near the shores of the Halifax River on public lands secured with the help of the U.S. Freedman Bureau in 1866.

They went to Port Orange to work for the Florida Land & Lumber Company, which Hawks and his partners formed. An additional 1,000 freed slaves made Port Orange their home six months later.

Falling on hard times, the settlement, the company and the integrated school disbanded in 1869. A majority of the settlers returned to their home states or headed for area citrus groves looking for work. A few families and individuals that stayed made up the pioneering African-American neighborhood of Port Orange known as Freemanville.

More information: Call 386-506-5522.

Orange City festival
The Orange City African American Festival is Feb. 26 and 27 at Mill Lake Park, 207 E. Blue Springs Ave., Orange City. It will include a Battle of the Bands, Brain Bowl tournament, poster contest, sweet potato pie bake off and entertainment featuring the Vibe Band. Health screenings will be available, and the festival will include college recruiters, financial institutions and employment professionals.

African-American heritage events in Orange City begin at 6 p.m. with a talent and gospel program at Volusia International Bible Fellowship, 300 W. Blue Springs Ave. It will feature Faith Henderson and the Gospel Praise, Wanda Cobb, Ronald Freeman and the Singing Angels, and others.

More information: www.ocaahf.com or call 407-314-1033 or 407-456-0610.

Storytelling in Ormond
The Ormond Beach Library will celebrate Black History Month with  accomplished storyteller Clara Bivens as a guest.  She has been a member of National Association of Black Storytellers since 1997. Bivens will weave her stories for adults beginning at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m for children on Feb. 10.

On Feb. 14 from 2 to 5 p.m., Imani Kinshasa will moderate a panel discussion titled “The African American Experience.” Featured panelists will be Dr. Kwando Kinshasa and Gerri Wright-Gibson.

The library’s February events will conclude with a presentation of “The War Room.” This award-winning movie is family-friendly and explores the transformational role prayer plays using heart, wit, and humor to deliver a message.

All events will be held at the Ormond Beach Library, 30 South Beach St.

More information: Call Suzan Howes at 386-257-6036 or visit  VolusiaLibrary.org.

Festival in New Smyrna
The Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum will present the 25th Annual Black Heritage Festival, Feb. 5-7, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Pettis Park, 314 N. Duss St., New Smyrna Beach.

Activities at the free festival are designed to interest students as well as seniors of many cultures and backgrounds. It includes educational tours, music, art, cultural exhibits and demonstrations, historical tools, food, storytelling, as well as life stories told by seniors from the New Smyrna Beach Westside community.

Visitors can watch woodcarving techniques; observe chores of the past, including clothes washing, soap making and quilting; see cane-grinding demonstrations; and tour a “shotgun” house.

More information: 386-416-9699

Civil Rights exhibit
A new exhibit highlighting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement opened on Jan. 22 at the Southeast Museum of Photography.

The exhibit brings together images by seven documentary photographers taken from three distinct portfolios that captured pivotal moments of the Civil Rights Movement in America.

The photographers are Benedict Fernandez, Leonard Freed, Matt Herron, Charles L. Moore, Gordon Parks, Flip Schulke and Dan Weiner.

“The Civil Rights Movement Restored’’ will be on display at the museum through April 17. The museum, a service of Daytona State College, is located at 1200 W. International Speedway Blvd. (Mori Hosseini Center, Building 1200).


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