Young Poets Celebrate Black History Month in the Bronx Museum of the Arts

Bronx Museum of the Arts African American History and Culture celebration
Presentation honorees and special performance members (Photo by T Shkurtaj)

On Friday, Feb. 23, the Bronx Museum of the Arts hosted an African-American History and Culture celebration lead by Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson and State Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner.

Coincidentally falling on W.E.B DuBois’ birthday, a pioneer for early civil rights activism, the celebration was held to commemorate parallel prominent leaders within the Bronx community who are slowly working to combat today’s obstacles of racial inequality. “We are recognizing these powerful individuals who are continuing the fight each and every day,” said Joyner in her opening remarks, “this is probably my most favorite celebration to host.”

Gibson, going into her second and final term as councilwoman, talked about the importance of opening doors of opportunity, especially for the African American individual, by continuing to invest in the Bronx community. “We want to not only make a difference, but to be the difference,” Gibson said, “for me the celebration of Black History Month is not just the designated month of February, its every day, of every month, of every single year.”

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Musical performances by local artists and dancers were weaved into the program throughout the evening. Poetry was performed by Girl Be Heard, an organization that aims to amplify the voices of young women through performance.

Jordan Sanchez, Kemara Night and Alyssa Martinez (Photo by T Shkurtaj)

Jordan Sanchez, a member of Girl Be Heard, talked about the importance of education in her poetry. She compared her American experience to one of a girl living in Africa, both from different, yet similar circumstances. “Education is a great equalizer, it is the key to success, but how equal could something be if it is not offered to everyone?” questioned Sanchez.

Kemara Night and Alyssa Martinez, also affiliates of Girl Be Heard, recited poetry that focused on African American history and racial stereotyping. “Don’t disrespect us and question why our presence is missing, it was never wanted unless in the fields or the kitchen” said Night in the last line of her poem.

“Blackness: when your ignorance becomes your noose, when their blindfold becomes a cloth they gag you with, Blackness: hands up, don’t speak. Don’t cry you look weak,” said Martinez in her poetry.

“The energy in this room is just contagious,” New York State Senator, Jose Serrano, said, “it’s healing and it’s something we desperately need right now when you consider all that’s going on.” He continued by adding that Black History celebrations, such as this one in the Bronx, should be considered patriotic acts because they are honoring fellow citizens for the progress they are making in their communities. “The beauty of America is that it is always a place where we can recreate ourselves,” said Serrano.

This article has been republished from with the permission of the author.