The annual event encourages Flagler County youth to learn about their culture.
With a theme of "Our Florida Mosaic," the 16th-annual Youth Black History Reality Program was filled with young faces of the African American Cultural Society who presented information on the many sacrifices, legacies and contributions of African Americans in the history of Florida, specifically in Flagler County, Eatonville, St. Augustine, Miami, Rosewood, the Florida Keys, Fort Blount and Pensacola.
A packed room at the AACS Center, located at 4422 N. US 1, watched the free program on the afternoon of Sunday, Jan. 27. Each year, local youth are encouraged to learn about significant people in their culture's history and showcase what they learned in creative ways, such as song, dance and poetry.
The master of ceremonies was Flagler Palm Coast High School senior Stefany Ecklin. FPC's TV production program presented a video about African American history from 1500 to 1864. The youth of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church performed "The Right to Life" — an emotional recollection of Floridian African Americans who were killed, like Trayvon Martin in 2012 and the victims of the Rosewood massacre in 1923. After each recollection, the performers and the crowd recited in unison: "We have a right to live."
Jeanette Wheeler, the program's chairwoman, said she's thankful the heavy rainfall and chilly temperature didn't keep the audience away on Sunday.
"It's nice to know you have dedicated people who will stick with you," Wheeler said.
A group of girls performed a dance routine choreographed by Valerie Betts to "Strange Fruit," most famously performed by Billie Holiday. The song is known as a protest against racism in America, particularly the lynching of African Americans.
For the legacy and contributions portion of the program, students presented information about historical figures such as Orange County's Val and Jerry Demings and former Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, who was the Democratic nominee for Florida governor in the 2018 election.
"To the young people, we are so proud of you," Wheeler said. "You are our future, and I think we're going to be OK because we know you are dedicated people."
Donations from the program goes toward youth scholarships for local students who have to meet GPA requirements, participate in at least two Youth Black History Reality Programs and write an essay about their future career aspirations. Call the center at 447-7030 or email [email protected].