Bakersfield unifies to celebrate black history month



DatKrew performing at the Black History Month Parade at Downtown Bakersfield on February 29, 2020

Gabriela Reyes, Reporter

  The Bakersfield community came together at the annual Black American Parade that took place on 21st and L Streets Feb. 29. Various groups of people took this opportunity to showcase the culture and diversity of black history. 

   Church members, school bands, cheerleaders and dancers, souped-up cars, and cowboys on horses were all a part of the event. People of all ages had something to contribute and filled the streets of downtown Bakersfield with joy and diversity. 

  Patrick Jackson Jr., president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), said that 48 groups participated this year, and community involvement increases every year.  

  “It is a beautiful day,” said Jackson. “It gives us the opportunity to celebrate, to come together, to love one another, and to be able to have some fun and learn from each other. Every year is getting bigger and better, and more people are participating.” 

  Jackson also said that anyone can be a part of the parade. It is a yearly, planned event and registrations are available both online and at the Martin Luther King Jr Center. 

  Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh was present at the event and formed a part of this year’s parade. 

  “This was a wonderful day to celebrate the richness of black history, to unite as a community, and enjoy the wonderful heritage of our brothers and sisters. We had a variety of ethnic dancers, bands, cars, horses, all celebrating the beautiful African American history,” Goh said. 

  “I come every year to the Black History Parade just to see the dancers, and the motorcyclists, and the horses, to see people that you don’t see during the year. Everybody comes out,” said Jade Washington, a spectator of the parade. 

  Jackson also added that the parade does not represent black culture to the fullest, but it does portray an image of unity, since it brings people out and together. 

  Street vendors promoted different services and products in an empty lot right in front of the main parade route. 

  Chrystal Sheppard, a project specialist and representative for the Black Infant Health Program, said that although her organization did not form a part of the parade, her and her teammates showed up to promote their program, which empowers pregnant African American women, and to support the African American community. 

  “It is about culture, historical accomplishments, and pride in our local black community. There are so many different types of culturally affirming organizations and churches that are present here, everyone gets represented. My favorite part was just seeing the love and support for the parade participants from their own community,” said Sheppard. 

  A representative from Cultural Elegance Studio shared that this was the salon’s fifth year participating in the event, and said that she promotes the culture from different countries. Her business has hand-made baskets from Ghana, and the proceeds from selling the baskets support the construction of orphanages in that country. The representative also said that she was there to pass on knowledge to new generations. 

  “It teaches the new generations that there is something positive in their heritages, and it teaches them how to represent themselves with pride and cultural elegance,” she said.