The New Mexico Black History Organizing Committee strives to have events that are educational, as well as inclusive to the community.
This year, the calendar is packed with events to celebrate Black History Month.
The events kick off at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, with a flag-raising ceremony at Scholes Hall on the University of New Mexico campus.
Cathryn McGill is the founder/director of the organization.
She says her goal this year, as in previous years, is to get the community involved through the events.
This year, during the Cotton Club Scholarship Gala on Feb. 18, the organization will be honoring Dr. Lenton Malry and Joy Dell Malry.
Dr. Lenton Malry was the first African-American elected to the New Mexico Legislature, the first African-American to serve as a Bernalillo County commissioner; the first African-American to receive a doctorate in education administration from the University of New Mexico.
And he was the first black male teacher and the first black school principal in Albuquerque Public Schools.
“The gala is about encouraging kids in higher education,” McGill says. “By honoring the Malrys, we are celebrating the people who have been championing those causes. The events that we to help create awareness of the good that’s being done in the community.”
Another key event will be the “Roots Revival Revisited,” on Thursday, Feb. 2, and Feb. 3-4 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.
“This is a multicultural event that involves a lot of local kids,” she says. “There is a conversation telling the younger generation that it’s important to know their history all while learning about the arts. It’s an important part of who we are as a society.”
The organization is also honoring Ron Wallace, editor of PerspectiveNM, on Feb. 7 at the Special Collections Library, 423 E. Central.
Wallace is being honored for his work in journalism with the Asante Award.
“Ron has made a huge difference with his work,” McGill says.
McGill also notes the “Pathways to Freedom” event, on Feb. 25 at Highland High School.
The workshop is aimed at providing the tools needed to design your life with a goal in mind of having a perfect day. The event is free and open to the public.
McGill feels like this year’s events are more crucial than in the past. She says all but two – Roots Revival Revisited and Cotton Club Gala – of the events are free.
“Hearing about potential (federal) cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, makes the work we do more important,” she says. “The community comes together to enjoy art and culture.”
Ending the month will be “Motown: The Musical,” which begins a run at Popejoy Hall on Feb. 28.
The musical is the true American dream story of Motown founder Berry Gordy’s journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and many more.
McGill is trying to get all people to know that history is important.
“Everyone needs to know their history in order to understand who they are,” she says. “That’s what we are looking to highlight. It’s 365 days a year that black history is American history. We are better together.”