By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Downtown Dearborn will host multiple free events to honor black history, culture, achievements and ongoing efforts in the community in celebration of Black History Month.
Homage to Black Excellence from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 21 at The Connector, 13600 John Nagy Drive, at City Hall Artspace will be an eclectic collection of visual arts, music and fashion, according to a Downtown Dearborn press release.
Resident artists worked to curate an exhibition honoring red, black and green which symbolizing black excellence in leadership, economic development, arts, politics, entertainment and education. A runway show featuring clothing from local brand Al Wissam worn by celebrities and clothing from artists living in Artspace will also take place.
A live discussion with Detroit music producer Prevail will focus on the importance of Al Wissam’s fashion in the hip-hop and black culture.
In addition, Prevail will provide the soundtrack during the celebration. State Rep. Jewell Jones (D-Dearborn Heights) will make a special presentation that highlights the community engagement of local resident artists of City Hall Artspace.
“This is worth all the time, sweat and creativity,” East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority Board Director Julia Kapilango said in the release. “Seeing our community come together to celebrate Dearborn’s diversity and inclusion is an honor and privilege.”
The Homage to Black Excellence program was made possible in partnership with Al Wissam Inc., Dearborn City Hall Artspace, and EDDDA.
“I am so excited,” Artspace artist Monica Feliciano said in the press release. “We’ve been working pretty hard to get this event up and going. Several artists that live here are participating.”
Another program, “Sisters Cashing In,” will bring the National Association of Black Women Entrepreneurs and Healthy Wealthy and Wise Change Agents to The Connector from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 29 for a round table discussion and networking opportunity.
Sisters Cashing In will be gathering as a collective of black women entrepreneurs, boss ladies, musicians, chefs, athletes, scientists, and creatives, the press release said.
Downtown Dearborn Executive Director Christina Sheppard-Decius said Kapilango reached out to people she knew and started coordinating the programs in December.
“Part of the discussion was looking at the Downtown Dearborn portfolio of what we do throughout the year and we didn’t have much in January and February with restaurant week being moved to March,” Sheppard-Decius said. “The idea started with a plan to focus our social media around Black History Month and then into doing more social engagements. Kapilango was able to pull events and activities focused on the month, which was great.”
Sheppard-Decius said the group plans to make the Black History Month programs or activities an annual celebration, and that planning and promoting will be done more in advance in the future.
“We talked about doing more entrepreneur-based events which can tie in with the local businesses in Dearborn,” she said.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])