A yard sign displaying information about human rights activist Malcom X sits outside the Donald F. Fracassi Municipal Center. The sign is a part of the “Walk Through History” display, which features informational signs describing some well-known and lesser-known influential African Americans throughout Southfield and world history.

A yard sign displaying information about human rights activist Malcom X sits outside the Donald F. Fracassi Municipal Center. The sign is a part of the “Walk Through History” display, which features informational signs describing some well-known and lesser-known influential African Americans throughout Southfield and world history.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Black History Month celebrations take on a new life in Southfield

Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers to take place live Feb. 26

By: Jacob Herbert | Southfield Sun | Published February 23, 2021

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SOUTHFIELD — While the global pandemic has changed the way many people live, it was not going to change the annual Black History Month celebration put on by the city of Southfield. It was too important.

“We felt like we couldn’t just not do it,” said Taneisha Springer. “We had to acknowledge the contributions of our Black pioneers. We had to figure out something that we could do for the community because it’s too big of a deal to do nothing. We’re fortunate that we live in a digital age so we were still able to engage the community and let them know that we’re still celebrating Black History Month.”

The Southfield Parks and Recreation Department dedicated six different COVID-19-safe events to celebrate the lives, achievements and contributions of African Americans throughout history.

Starting Feb. 1 and continuing through March 1, the city featured a “Walk Through History” display that highlighted informational signs describing some well-known and lesser-known influential African Americans throughout Southfield and world history. The exhibit will be displayed along the front lawn of the Donald F. Fracassi Municipal Complex, 26000 Evergreen Road.

The department is also selling Black History Month activity bags containing activity sheets, stickers, themed coloring sheets by Naturally Illustrated, crayons, a bracelet craft and much more. The bags are being provided by National Heritage Academies and can be purchased while supplies last by calling (248) 796-4620 or going to anc.apm.activecommunities.com/southfieldparks.

“I think one of our biggest challenges to overcome was that people can’t gather,” said Samantha Jenkins, program coordinator for Southfield’s Black History Month celebration. “Typically in the past our events are very well attended and we celebrate together. With COVID we obviously had to come up with some different ways that we could still celebrate Black History Month safely. Also with it being winter in Michigan, being able to do things outside was a challenge as well, but I think we’re doing the best we can and made the most of it.”

On Feb.17, Southfield residents were treated to a free virtual lecture featuring former City Councilwoman Barbara Tally, the first African American elected to public office in Southfield. The lecture was catered by local restaurant Beans & Cornbread.

“Conversations & Cocktails” took place Feb. 19 on the Parks and Recreation Department’s Facebook page. The program acknowledged and celebrated the contributions of African Americans to society with some of metro Detroit’s most notable poets and drummers. Participants gathered safely at home with friends, family and a cocktail or two. Berhenda Williams hosted the event, which featured performances by Rosemarie Wilson, Nathan “Drizz” Johnson, Dr. Diane Jackson and drummer Nanou Djiapo.

Face-to-face interaction was the one thing missing from this year’s celebration.

An event titled “Moonlight Movie Night” was the closest the Parks and Recreation Department was able to get, which was why Jenkins was looking forward to it the most.

“I’m excited about that one because we’re actually able to do it safely and in person,” she said. “We get to safely see people and engage with them. I’m pretty excited for that one just because we get to see each other.”

On Feb. 20, residents gathered in the cars at the Parks and Recreation Department parking lot to watch the 2019 drama “Just Mercy.” The film features Michael B. Jordan, who plays Bryan Stevenson, and Jamie Foxx, who plays Walter McMillian. The film centers on Stevenson’s defense of McMillian in court for a 1987 murder evidence said he didn’t commit. Stevenson encounters racism as well as legal and political maneuverings as he fights for McMillian’s life. The event was limited to 40 cars, and the sound for the movie was transmitted through FM radio.

Springer’s most anticipated event will be the one that closes out the celebration. “The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers” will take place live Feb. 26 starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10, and guests can register at anc.apm.activecommunities.com/southfieldparks or by calling (248) 796-4620.

Produced by Satori Shakoor and hosted by Cheryl James, the show will feature true and personal stories told by Carolyn Carter, Frank Joyce and Ken Coleman. “The Urban Violinist,” Kym Brady, will provide musical entertainment, while the Legacy Dance Studio Tiaras dance group will perform the piece “Good Trouble,” choreographed by Christopher Huggins, followed by a special after show Q&A with the performers, as well as an opportunity to browse the virtual Storytellers Marketplace.

“For me, my favorite would be the storytellers, because you get to hear personal stories about their journey being Black in America,” Springer said. “I like that one because it’s so personal. There’s actual local people for the most part telling stories about their journey.”

For more information on Southfield’s Black History Month celebration, visit cityofsouthfield.com or call (248) 796-4620.

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