NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - It's an annual gathering where artists and vendors showcase their work and celebrate their African American heritage and culture but it's also a platform for East Texans to talk about the issues African Americans still face.
There were songs, skits, poems and art, all of which are meant to showcase and celebrate African American heritage and culture at the annual 'Celebrating African American Heritage and Culture with Love' program at SFA.
President of Progressive Leadership and Vice President of the African American Heritage Project, Patrick Sanders said, "I think it's important for us as African Americans to celebrate each other and to also celebrate the struggles of our ancestors and in order to know where you're going you have to know where you came from."
Progressive Leadership and The African American Heritage Project do this every year to bring awareness to black history and highlight the contributions and accomplishments of local African Americans, Like Queen Handy.
"When I was growing up as a little kid, it was hard to find black angels so now I've started my own collection," said Handy. "So that all of the young people can get a chance to see angels and angels that look like them because in heaven, there's going to be angels of all colors, of all people."
But the event was also a platform for community leaders to talk about issues that African Americans still face.
Doctor Scott Sosebee from the SFA history department moderated a panel discussion where they discussed what racism looks like now in the 21st century.
"We live in an age when no school or public institution would reject a candidate, a least outwardly, based on his or her race," said Sosebee. "The United States has twice elected by majority vote, an African American president. The KKK is banished as a fringe group. Bull Connor-style racism is not only frowned upon but it's socially unacceptable still despite such progress African American middle class remains economically behind their white counterparts. Institutional racism is still a problem and in some areas, some more than others we still hear every day racist statements, actions and policy and I think some of that is back today with a vigor that we haven't seen at least since the 1970s. I happen to think in some ways racism is on the rise so obviously racism in some form still exists."
Event organizers say 40 short years ago, they could not have gathered together on the SFA campus, and they want the generation coming up to remember that.