BAY MINETTE, Alabama — Coastal Alabama Community College is hosting several cultural events in celebration of Black History Month. The theme throughout February is “The Great Migration: Music, Unity, & Freedom.”
All of the events are open to the public and will be held at the L.D. Owen Performing Arts Center on the Bay Minette campus. The kickoff program was on Feb. 12 and featured music by award-winning artists Grayson Capps, Corky Hughes and John Milham, accompanied by the College’s gospel choir, Elated Voices of Triumph, and its secular group, Sun Chief Sound.
The program highlighted how music played an integral role in African-American history, from the spirituals sung during slavery to more contemporary artists, such as Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, James Brown, and Wells Fargo. The music followed a discussion of the Transatlantic slave trade with history instructor Kouri Allen.
“Everything has beautifully formed together,” said Franklin Edward, chairman of the eight-person Black History Month committee. He added that classes normally scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. have been pushed back to 1:45 so students can attend the hour-long programs and still have plenty of time to get to class.
The second Black History Month event, Wednesday Night at the Apollo, will be held on Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m. It is based on the popular television and stage show, Showtime at the Apollo, and is entirely student-oriented. There will be dance, poetry, music and more. And at least a dozen acts have signed up with room for more, Edward said.
The event will be hosted by Dr. Carl Cunningham Jr., director of student support services at Coastal Alabama Community College. Each performance will be critiqued by judges, and the winner will win a cash prize. Anyone wanting to sign up can contact Dr. Cunningham at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Black History Month at the College concludes on Feb. 26 at 12:30 p.m. with featured speaker the Rev. H.K. Matthews. A veteran of the Civil Rights Era, Matthews is a pastor from Brewton associated with the school’s campus there. Edward said he hopes a lot of the student body — 35 percent of which is minority students — comes out to hear the stories told by someone who actually marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“We want the whole month to be a learning experience,” Edward said. “Our goal is for them to leave with more knowledge and experience than they came with.”