Southfield Parks and Rec launches new Black History Month programs

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published January 16, 2019

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SOUTHFIELD — To celebrate the history and heritage of black Americans, the Southfield Parks and Recreation Department has launched several new programs for residents to enjoy this February.

The programs will kick off at 4 p.m. Feb. 2 with a slew of activities at the Southfield Pavilion, 26000 Evergreen Road.

Stephanie Kaiser, a marketing analyst for the Parks and Recreation Department, said the event will include the Black History 101 Mobile Museum, presentations and a black-owned business marketplace.

Both Kaiser and Recreation Operations Coordinator Marilyn Troshak said they felt the city was lacking in Black History Month events and that residents pushed for the city to have more events throughout the month. Kaiser said it’s the first time the city has presented programs for the entire month.

“In parks and recreation, we reinvent ourselves all the time. We take a look at and inventory what we’ve always done and what we’ve never done and try to enhance our programs and try to be relevant to the community,” Troshak said. “Black History Month is something that is absolutely relevant to this community.”

The Black History 101 Mobile Museum was founded by Khalid el-Hakim and is a traveling collection of over 7,000 original artifacts of black memorabilia, from as early as the transatlantic slave trade era in the 15th century to more recent hip-hop memorabilia.

The museum has traveled to 32 states and has visited over 300 venues — colleges, K-12 schools, corporations, conferences, libraries, museums, festivals, religious institutions and cultural events.

“(el-Hakim) goes around to flea markets and garage sales to collect artifacts and puts them all together into this mobile museum,” Kaiser said. “His thing is to not present it as a static museum, but to take it places where people wouldn’t normally see these things and open up his audience.”

el-Hakim will give a presentation on his museum at the event, along with a presentation from Public Enemy’s Professor Griff.

For the black-owned business marketplace, Kaiser said, vendors ranging from restaurants to boutique stores will be featured, and the goal of the marketplace is to spread the word about businesses that are black owned.

“We just want to make sure the community knows these businesses are out there and become familiar with them and start to support them,” Kaiser said.

Organizers are also looking for more businesses and sponsors to be part of the marketplace, where vendors will be able to keep 100 percent of their sales.

The fee for vendors is $25 for one 8-foot table and two chairs. Registration closes Jan. 28. Vendors can register online at cityof southfield.com.

“Even though this is not in our budget, we felt strongly enough that we wanted to provide this to our residents and surrounding community,” Troshak said. “We felt strongly enough about this that we said, ‘Let’s go do this and try to get some sponsors.’”

To round out the month, a free couples game night will be held 7-9 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Southfield Pavilion. DJ DeezyD will provide music, and a cash bar will be available.

On Feb. 15, residents are invited to a free screening of  “I Am Not Your Negro” at the Parks and Recreation Department, 26000 Evergreen Road. The Oscar-nominated documentary explores the history of racism in the U.S. and is rated PG-13.

Elements of Black History Month will also be sprinkled into WinterFest, which will take place 2-4:30 p.m. Feb. 18, as well as the Midwinter Break Camp, which will be held Feb. 19-22.

The month will wrap up at 6 p.m. Feb. 28 with an event called “The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers” at the Southfield Pavilion.

The event is a live storytelling show that is usually featured at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. General admission costs $10 per person.

For more information, visit www.cityofsouthfield.com.

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