Approximately 100 people attended a highly informative and emotionally powerful Black History Month Celebration on Sunday afternoon, March 8, 2015. This program was co-sponsored by the Network and the St. Mary’s Church Peace and Justice Committee, with funding provided by the Cummings Foundation.

Peniel Joseph, Ph.D., a renowned scholar of African American history, talked about the historical context and modern day realities of institutional racism. He eloquently addressed a wide range of topics, including: the incarceration of a tragically disproportionate number of black men as a result of biases in our police practices, laws, and courthouses; the hard fact that the advancement of civil rights historically has required struggle and sacrifice on the part of advocates; and the clear marker for the time when we reach a racially just society, which would be socioeconomic and educational equity between races.

Jamele Adams

The program also included a riveting Spoken Word performance by “Harlym 125,” Jamele Adams. Spoken Word is performance-based poetry that focuses on word play and storytelling. Mr. Adams, the Dean of Students at Brandeis University, has won numerous competitions regionally and nationally, performing with a team of poets. He also leads diversity workshops and provides interventions in local high schools dealing with racial incidents. Following his performance, a group of young people from Winchester’s chapter of the ABC program immediately gathered around him. ABC, or A Better Chance, Inc, is a national nonprofit that provides expanded educational and career opportunities for talented students of color.  Mr. Adams addressed this group as “scholar kings.”