PIQUA — Edison State Community College recognized Black History Month with its annual celebration of the month, hosting Dayton Contemporary Dance Company 2 as well as recognizing essay winners who each wrote about justice and equality.
The Diversity Committee at Edison State hosted the event at Edison State’s Robinson Theater.
“This is a wonderful event that celebrates our community. It celebrates the diversity in our community. It celebrates the history in our community,” city of Piqua Mayor Kazy Hinds said.
Hinds kicked off the evening by presenting Diversity Committee Chairperson Marva Archibald with a proclamation honoring Black History Month.
“This is a very important month, not only in our country, but especially here in our community,” Hinds said.
Hinds recognized the Diversity Committee’s role in “advancing the college’s academic mission and goals in the areas of diversity, equality, inclusion and human rights.”
Hinds went on to say that, “Black History Month is an occasion to rediscover the enduring stories of African Americans and the gifts of freedom, purpose and opportunity they have bestowed upon future generations … It is also a time to commemorate the countless contributions of African Americans, many of whom who lived through and endured segregation, racial prejudice and discrimination to enrich every fiber of American life today.”
Hinds added that Wednesday night’s event at Edison State “raises the fact that the battle for equality still lives on, and we need to recognize and raise awareness in regard to diversity and inclusion.” She then asked to honor “those who went to great lengths to fight for the rights and equality that many enjoy today.”
Archibald later recognized Edison State students who participated in an essay competition.
“The theme of the essay competition this year was justice and equality,” Archibald said. She said there were 26 entries.
Tyler Royer of Piqua received first place with his essay, “The Minorities’ Minority,” writing about civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, who faced additional prejudice in the early Civil Rights Movement for being gay.
“Attached to this man’s story is a battle we’ve seen before — a battle for life, liberty and especially happiness,” Royer said.
Royer said that Rustin worked to hold peaceful protests and the 1941 March on Washington to protest workplace discrimination.
Student Paige Crick was the second place winner. She was unable to attend the event, but Archibald said, “Her essay was titled ‘Dr. Marta.’ It is the story of Paige’s stepmother, Dr. Marta M. Rivera-Crick, who grew up in Puerto Rico in a restrictive environment but was able to muster the courage to throw off those chains, travel to New York, study dentistry and open a dental clinic for minority children in Tampa, Florida. Dr. Marta’s story, as told by her stepdaughter Paige, gives hope to all of us for the changes we seek.”
Mykie Gulley, a 2017 graduate of Greenville High School, won third place with his essay, “Still I Rise,” on Maya Angelou and how Angelou affected his own life by inspiring him to overcome personal hardships.
“Maya Angelou was a beautiful African American poet and civil rights activist that wrote about the hardships she had been through, the history of her race and how she yearned for equality and justice,” Gulley said.
Local artists Linda Hamilton of Piqua, Abigail Ngoza-Jordan of Troy and Zoe Wright of Zoe Packs of Troy had displays outside Robinson Theater. In 2017, Wright, now 9, came up with the idea of “Zoe Packs,” bags filled with toothpaste and other items to send to people of Christiansted, St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands after watching reports about the area being devastated by hurricanes. Wright now makes jewelry, displaying bracelets and necklaces with African designs at the Black History Month event.
Next to Wright’s display was Hamilton’s fine art display, featuring oil paintings of portraits, still life and more. Hamilton also had carved gourds on display.
DCDC2 performed various dance selections throughout the evening. According to its website, DCDC2 was founded in 1975 by Jeraldyne Blunden. DCDC2 is the repertory-training ensemble of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. DCDC2 has performed throughout the Miami Valley and midwest Ohio, including its annual spring concert at the University of Dayton Boll Theatre. DCDC2 also has performed in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois and Kentucky.
For more information on DCDC2, visit www.dcdc.org/dcdc2.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org.