Easter weekend 2012 was full of activity at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where the Black History and Culture Showcase was held.
The Black History and Culture Showcase, formally called the Black History Showcase, added “culture” this year to incorporate themes of art, music, film and literature. The showcase started in 2004 by executive producer Everett Staten. Staten started this event with the idea to spread history of Black culture.
“History is the narrative of the past and history and culture really make up people’s story,” Staten said.
Years ago Staten and a team created a Black expo that showed the economic development of Black businesses while incorporating entertainment.
“I met Tuskegee airmen, Negro League baseball players and asked them to be apart of the event,” he said. “We are talking about 15 years ago—we brought them in and I was amazed at how many people were stopping by and talking.”
Inspired by the success of the Black expo, Staten started the showcase and decided last year it was best to move it to Easter weekend.
The showcase took place Saturday and Sunday and kicked off with an “Introduction to Genealogy” session Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. Saturday’s events included a WURD Speaks Symposium “The Impact of Race, Culture and History on Body, Mind and Spirit” Part II, a discussion with historian and scholar Dr. Molefi Kete Asante, creator of the first doctoral program in African-American studies at Temple University and concluded with a workshop titled “History Treasures in Your Home.”
Sunday’s events began with a performance from the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble, followed by a health lecture and book signing with author and journalist Hilary Beard and health and wellness writer and educator Glenn Ellis. The lecture was followed by a performance from the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz youth jazz band and concluded with a “Marian Anderson Scholars 1939 Easter Sunday Reenactment.” Along with the scheduled events, the showcase consisted of various exhibits that visitors were able to view as they roamed through the convention center.
“We did this event to commemorate and celebrate the African-American experience,” Staten said.
The exhibits included the Lest We Forget Slavery Museum, a Black Inventions Museum, a George Washington Carver exhibit and a Negro League Exhibit.
Sisters Michelle and Beverly Thompson traveled from Delaware to experience the showcase, exhibits and presentations.
“My favorite room is the slavery room and actually seeing the shackles and artifacts and reading some of the stories,” Michelle said. “I didn’t know they used to use little Black babies for bait to capture alligators—I was teary eyed.”
Beverly was also deeply touched by the exhibits and felt the showcase was effective in reaching out to the visitors and exploring important parts of history.
“I really liked that they showcased of Black art — it’s cool because in Delaware we don’t get spots like this where it’s a big community thing,” Beverly said.
“Black history is an essential part of American history,” Staten said. “The more one knows and understands about one’s culture—can foster power and respect between races.”