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  • Hedda Jarhall

Black History Month raises discussions while embracing youth

February is the official Black History Month in the U.S. Many local communities are hosting events to inform and engage people about the importance of African American history. (Photo courtesy: Town of Southampton)

Black History Youth Awareness Art Festival in Delray Beach was one of many events taking place in Palm Beach County during February to celebrate Black History Month.

Since 1986, February has been recognized as the official Black History Month in the U.S. This month is used across the country to educate, engage and influence communities.

Palm Beach County hosted events throughout the month, many of which included youth groups. BHYAAF was one of these events, aiming to inspire youth to explore entrepreneurship while promoting awareness of African American culture.

“Our goal is to improve mainly youth and inspire them to cultural acts through black history awareness,” said Anthony Bacchus, director of partnerships for Milagro Center, organizer and event coordinator of BHYAAF.

The second annual BHYAAF theme was “black resistance,” inspired by the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum. The museum is dedicated to discovering, collecting and sharing the African American history and heritage of Palm Beach County.

The festival included music performances and art competitions that encouraged youth to stand up for and represent themselves as part of this year's theme.

Bacchus said that he organizes the festival to inspire youth to know their roots and have a bright future where they can feel included in the community. This is accomplished by encouraging youth to share their artwork and entrepreneurship during the festival.

Dr. Terriel Byrd, professor of Urban Christian Ministry and Fellow for the Intercultural Engagement Council at Palm Beach Atlantic University, sees black history as U.S. history.

“So many black individuals have contributed to education, science, music and art to help this nation to become the great nation it has become,” Byrd said.

Byrd then criticized the attempt in Florida to remove the AP course on African American studies from high schools. The Florida Department of Education banned this course after reasoning that it could violate Florida law, educational value and historical accuracy.

Despite criticism from others, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed this bill, stating that the course was too closely aligned with other political agendas. Byrd, however, disagreed.

“This should never happen because too much progress has been made to educate a society so often plagued by ignorance of the history of Black Americans,” Byrd said.

Byrd said that Black History Month can be used to raise discussions, such as the debate with this law. These discussions can be held in schools, allowing youth participation to further discover solutions for the future.

Byrd also said that he admires the perseverance of African Americans who have a fierce determination to keep pressing on against all odds they face.

By Hedda Jarhall

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