By Andrea Nicolls
Riderwood resident and AAHC member
As many Riderwood residents know, February is Black History Month. It was originally created in 1926 by African American historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Known initially as Negro History Week, this special designation was made to promote the teaching of African American history in schools and to celebrate the achievements of African Americans in general. It evolved through the decades until 1976 when as part of the United States Bicentennial, it became known as Black History Month.
This February, the African American History Club (AAHC) has some exciting and important programs lined up for all Riderwood residents to enjoy and participate in. On Thursday, February 9 at 2 pm and 7 pm in the Encore Theater, the AAHC will be showing Ava DuVernay’s compelling, must-see documentary, 13th. The film explores the tangled, complicated history of the 13th amendment to the Constitution which ostensibly abolished slavery and involuntary servitude throughout the United States except as a punishment for a crime. The film explores issues of race and social injustice while focusing on how an interpretation of that amendment is used to justify the mass incarceration of people of color today. A follow-up discussion of the film will be held on Friday in the Montgomery Station classroom at 7 pm. All residents are welcome.
On February 17 at 7:30 pm in the Encore Theater, the Harry Bass Jazz Ensemble will perform music from the American Song
Book. Harry Bass is a jazz vocalist and stylist from the DC area noted for singing jazz standards and swing. The Performing Arts Council and the AAHC co-sponsor this event. Tickets for the performance are $5.00.
Throughout February, Riderwood residents may also enjoy reading the daily profiles of well-known African Americans both living and deceased on Riderwood TV Channel 972. This year’s profile segments will be especially poignant as the person who prepared them, former Riderwood resident and AAHC member Dr. Dorothy Stephens, passed away last year. Dr. Stephens developed nearly 100 profiles which aired over the years on Riderwood TV each day in February. Her work will continue through the efforts of Riderwood resident and AAHC member Rebecca Griffin and her committee.
Riderwood residents will also enjoy the talents of the display committee chaired by Levern Allen, Riderwood resident, and AAHC member. They will be adorning the display cases in the chapel and all resident buildings with objects and memorabilia dedicated to the theme Breaking the Code. In the past, especially during times of slavery and after, African Americans developed coded messages and music to communicate with one another to protect themselves and their communities. The display cases will highlight events and individuals, particularly those who lived before the Civil War who understood this concept. They include little-known authors, inventors, church leaders, mathematicians and musicians among others.
Please tell all your neighbors, friends and relatives to join us during the month of February and enjoy all the programs that the AAHC will be presenting. We look forward to your participation.