Black History Month celebration continues

STEUBENVILLE – The city’s month-long Black History celebration continued Saturday with special movie presentations, an introduction to African culture and a “Taste of Africa” featuring unique cuisine from the continent.

The events, held at Historic Fort Steuben, also included presentations of gift certificates to the winners of the annual Black History Essay Contest.

“We had three winners out of 162 entries,” said 4th Ward Councilwoman Angela Suggs, one of the judges. “All of the entrants received a $10 gift certificate, but the top three received $100 certificates.”

Organized by Asantewa Anyabwile and sponsored by the JFK Memorial Committee and Franciscan University of Steubenville, this year’s assignment “was to tell us about their heritage, their personal experiences,” Suggs said.

“All of the kids did very well,” she said. “Some were funny, some were very inspirational. We were very proud to have had 162 entries.”

Winning their age division were:

Elementary school: Xavier Turnbull of West Pugliese, who wrote of all he learned as he researched his heritage for his entry, including the definition of Africa – in Latin, it means “sunny” and in Greek, “without cold” and animal kingdom triva – cheetahs, the wildebeest and lions, all native to the continent, “can all run over 50 miles per hour!”

“The most amazing fact I could find about Africa is that there are over 800 languages spoken between over 700 million people!” she said. “Africa doesn’t have just positive facts, it’s also interesting, amazing and unique to me!”

Middle school: Makayla Crownover, Harding, who told the judges how the late Martin Luther King’s freedom speech rang true to her.

“I feel I’m living the part when he said, ‘I have a Dream that one day my four children will one day live in a nation where they are not judged by the color of their skin but the content of their heart,'” Crownover wrote.

“In my heart of hearts, I feel that my sister and I have reached the place where I can honestly say that we love all of our friends and we’re happy that we can hang out together. Before the Civil Rights Movement, children wouldn’t have been able to have these types of friendships. It is so nice to be able to ride the bus home after school and sit wherever I want, unlike Rosa Parks, who … refused to sit in the back of the bus. I’m thankful for this woman and many others that have built the foundation to a new America, where all people can just get along.”

High school: Faith Bauman, Steubenville, who told the judges she was struck by how “privileged and guilty” she feels about her life here in the United States now that she understands conditions in Africa.

“Africa almost seems like a different world when you compare it to the United States,” she said. “A fact that shocked me while researching is that there are fewer people in Africa with Internet access in the entire continent than in New York City alone. It’s the poorest and most under-developed of all the continents. The average poor person in Sub-Saharan Africa lives on 70 cents a day.”

The awards were donated by the Martin Luther King Association, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Eastern Gateway Community College and 1st Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoretto. Judging the contest, in addition to Suggs, were Sarah Fletcher, Sandi Rue, Ty-Juan Young-Bright, Rhonda Parris and Gergrude Delhart.

LaBelle Neighbors Who Care and Historic Fort Steuben sponsored the family friendly movies shown throughout the day Saturday, the Rev. Raymond Nwegede, a Catholic priest from Nigeria, discussed African culture, and Christiana Achebe shared a sampling of African cuisine.

Anyabwile said this year’s celebrtation has been “the biggest one, crowds and all.”

“It started out (years ago) as a film festival, but now it’s films, food and presentations,” she said. “And hopefully we can expand it to more days.”