In honor of Black History Month, community members came out to celebrate the contributions of black artists through literature and song at an open mic program called “Still We Rise.”
Hosted by Councilwoman Anissa Moore on Feb. 13, for the second year in a row, attendees recited poetry excerpts from famous writers and performed songs at the Long Beach Public Library.
People read pieces of work by Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou and Mari Evans, among others, and discussed the significance of the writings.
Long Beach residents, including Linda King, Kathy Williams and Runnie Myles, spoke the words of late black authors to a room of more than 30 people, and young members of Girl Scout Troop 2296 sang and shared excerpts that conveyed the themes of freedom and celebration.
“We all have gifts and talents,” Moore said, “and we all need to feel comfortable and have a safe space to be ourselves and enjoy ourselves.”
Members of the Christian Light Missionary Baptist Church, the Evangel Revival Community Church, the New Life Church of Christ and the Harvest on the Atlantic joined the program, including Kathy Campbell of Harvest on the Atlantic, who sang original lyrics.
“Our people have been suppressed for so long, and this is like a way of them coming out of it — they can feel free and express their feelings within their heart,” said Jacquetta Odom, president of the Concerned Citizens of North Park. “It’s a happy day to see the different ways people express themselves, and then as a unity, we all come together.”