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Black History Month Family Day

Black History Month Family Day

Reenah Golden and youth from the Avenue D Recreation Center

Excerpts of a blog submitted by:
Lisa A. Johnson, educator and poet

As you continue to partake in the spirit filled activities and social gatherings during the month of February, please join us here at the MAG for Black History Month Family Day as we chronicle the important milestones of persons from the African diaspora through art, music, dance and spoken word. This year’s theme “Sounds of Color” focuses on the rich and diverse culture and heritage of my people.

My family and I are proud to celebrate my father’s legacy of hard work and dedication. Willie Johnson Jr. is one of the first African American firefighters to integrate the Rochester Fire Department in the the 60s when segregation and isolation and discrimination was at its peak. After 39 years, my father finally decided to hang up his helmet, and pick up his hammer to help with the reconstruction of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina.

Willie Johnson Jr., Rochester Fire Department

Willie Johnson Jr., Rochester Fire Department ca. 1960

Another local person of prominence who changed the face of politics between 1961-65, is Constance Mitchell who served two terms on the Monroe County Board of Supervisors (currently known as the Monroe County Legislature). Mitchell was the first African American woman to be elected.

And so we owe this continued celebration of greatness to Rochester’s first African American woman Mayor Lovely Warren because “she is the dream and the hope of the slave.”

And now I leave you with this adage from the first African American president, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – President Barack Obama

Read the full blog: RochesterArts on the Democrat and Chronicle website. Click here.

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