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St. Louis County Library To Honor Black Achievement In Online Black History Events

St. Louis saxophonist Rhoda G. will perform a virtual musical selection on Feb. 19 for St. Louis County Library's Black History Month celebration.
St. Louis County Library
St. Louis saxophonist Rhoda G. will perform a virtual musical selection on Feb. 19 for the St. Louis County Library's Black History Month celebration.

Author Vivan Gibson, visual artist Cbabi Bayoc and the Black Rep are among the groups the St. Louis County Library will celebrate this month through its annual Black History Month program.

This year’s Black history presentations will feature 40 virtual programs that highlight African American achievements.

Black excellence in St. Louis should be celebrated often, said Sandy Williams, St. Louis County Library’s Black History Month committee chair.

“I think that St. Louis has historically been so important,” Williams said. “We have had so many people who have come from this area that have influenced the nation and even the world.”

Williams said some may know the city's connections to singer Tina Turner and tennis player Arthur Ashe, but it is also important to recognize the contributions of other Black St. Louisans.

The library will highlight lesser-known Black St. Louisans through visual programs that include spoken word and poetry workshops, author talks and informational webinars about African American contributions to Missouri history.

“We have a rich heritage here, and it's to be celebrated, and if you don't have the celebration, there is the possibility that things can be lost in history, things that we're not carrying over to the next generation,” Williams said. “We need to pass on these great things that have happened because it will help you to feel better about your community."

The program also will include highlights of baseball Hall of Famer Satchel Paige’s career, a performance by the Consuming Kinetics Dance Company and an online program on the golden age of hip-hop.

To help African Americans heal after a year of loss and fighting for equality, viewers can engage in a webinar about mental health.

“It gives people knowledge and hope that they can continue to fight for social justice issues and know that there are people, there are organizations that are supporting it,” said Crystal Harris, a member of the library’s Black History Month committee

This year’s online keynote address will feature novelist Walter Mosley on Feb. 11. Before the keynote address, the library will honor James Clark with the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis for his contributions to St. Louis’ Black communities.

"You're going to go away feeling like I can contribute something to my culture, I can receive something from my culture,” Williams said. “It's not just for African Americans, but we want everyone to celebrate with us that we are part of the puzzle. We are a group that everyone can enjoy, and I think it just makes us all better people because we're able to pull together, lift one another up and have a wonderful celebration.”

Follow Andrea on Twitter: @drebjournalist

Andrea covers race, identity & culture at St. Louis Public Radio.