The celebration of Gwinnett’s bicentennial throughout 2018 was an important milestone and a remembrance of how far Gwinnett has evolved in the past 200 years. In 1976, on the eve of our nation’s bicentennial, President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” February 1976 marked the first official African American History Month, a time to recognize the importance of Black history, culture and experiences in the drama of the American story.
Finding ways to celebrate African American History Month in Gwinnett, the Southeast’s most diverse county, isn’t hard – it may more challenging finding the time to experience it all! Mark your calendars for our suggestions on the best ways to educate and engage during African American History Month in Gwinnett.
The Ebony Society of Gwinnett County’s 1 is hosting their 18th annual MLK Parade and Celebration on MLK Day (January 21). The march starts at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center (GJAC), ends at Lawrenceville’s Moore Middle School, and following the parade, there will be a community celebration, fair and musical performances.
Throughout February, visitors to GJAC won’t want to miss Gwinnett County’s Black History Month Exhibit. It’s a self-guided exhibit, celebrating the contribution and accomplishments of African Americans both locally and nationally.
Aurora Theater’s production of “Rabbit Summer” is a timely exploration of the African-American experience in today’s America. Gun rights, manhood, fatherhood, sexual politics – today’s most explosive cultural issues are front and center in this riveting drama.
The Gwinnett County Public Library (GCPL) has programmed top-notch speakers, discussions and events throughout February, including “I Know a Man,” with author Ashley Bryan. Bryan, the winner of the Coretta Scott King Lifetime Achievement Award, has written 50+ children’s books based on African-American spirituals and stories. Additionally, GCPL will also host an African-American Genealogy Workshop, a Memory Quilt workshop and a program featuring “The History and Fashion of Afrocentric Fashion.”
February 16 will bring historian Jim Jordan to downtown Lawrenceville’s newest bookstore, Liberty Books. Jordan will discuss his highly lauded book, “The Slave-Trader’s Letter Book: Charles Lamar.” The novel details the illegal landing of 400 African slaves on American soil at Jekyll Island, using the yacht the Wanderer as a slave ship.
One of most “don’t miss” events is “World Thinking Day,” on February 23. Hosted by the Gwinnett Youth Commission at the Environmental and Heritage Center, this event will feature cultural performances, presentations, face-painting and hair braiding.
Gwinnett has also taken big steps towards preserving an important piece of our county’s African-American history and heritage with their 2016 purchase of the Maguire-Livsey House, part of what is known as the “Promised Land.” Gwinnett’s Promised Land was a plantation turned beloved black community, now in the early stages of restoration. Gwinnett County cultural historians are using a combination of 19th century documents, first-hand accounts and technology to renovate the “Big House,” while preserving the stories of this historic homestead.
When the renovation is finished, Gwinnett County plans to open it as a museum, with a goal of curating an interactive museum for school children, residents and visitors, and creating a foundation for developing heritage tourism in Gwinnett County.
For additional details on all 2019 upcoming events – visit our Events Calendar at www.exploregwinnett.org!