Supervisors London Breed and Malia Cohen threw a huge party inside City Hall on Feb. 26 in Celebration of Black History Month. “I feel like we needed to bring some of Black History Month to City Hall,” Breed said.
Dubbed the San Francisco Black History Cultural Experience, the celebration included music, art, dance and an open bar. Breed and Cohen kept the party moving under the direction of radio personality Renel Brooks Moon, Mistress of Ceremonies — who guided the exuberant audience through a spectacle of powerful performances expressing black history and black culture.
The celebration not only drew Mayor Lee — who spent a few moments at the podium highlighting his accomplishments — but also District Attorney George Gascon and supervisors David Campos and David Chiu. Willie Brown even showed up fashionably late and quietly stole the show at one point, posing with folks for photos.
Dancers from the Dominican University of California moved and pranced to a blend of African, modern and tribal influences. The dancers’ well-formed bodies glided to the beats in their bold outfits adorned with solid red against a tribal pattern.
Vocalist Lawrence Beaman captivated the immense crowd as he belted out “The Black National Anthem” and other songs, to the delight of spectators. Beaman shone like a sapphire in his impeccable suit as he showcased his silky smooth voice.
L. Peter Callender recited poetry from the African American poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar, whose parents had been slaves in Kentucky before the Civil War. A touching recital from an account of Black Christians having a sermon in the woods reminded the audience of how African Americans had to hide out and secretly hold their congregations in the America of old.
Artist/Art Historian Nashormeh Lindo really conveyed the spirit of Black History Month and “got real” about things when she spoke in front of the crowd. She broke down the history of Black History Month — going back to the celebration of emancipation — and shared her personal account of how she was inspired to become a historian after discovering the a lack of black history in her American education, and why it so important to remember the real story of black history.
Afterward, when asked about how she felt in general regarding Black History Month, she said that she was originally from Philadelphia — the cradle of liberty and brotherly love and sisterly affection — but that our founding fathers were all slaveholders.
“So what does that say about liberty?” she asked. “And that’s what really sparked me in my quest for looking at black history,” she further stated.
John Anderson — who was dressed in a fashionable suit, and who flashed a big smile — seemed to support Lindo’s sentiment when he said, “Yes, this is all nice, free drinks and Ed Lee letting us use City Hall, but what did we do? What did we do? They got the Kennedys, they got Martin Luther King, they got Malcolm, what did we do?
There was a good blend of truth and celebration in the event, and it was a success.
As things were winding down toward the end of the event, Breed said that she was overwhelmed with joy.