By: Amira Mensah, Development and Communications Associate
On Tuesday, February 25 Homeless Children’s Network staff rejoiced, commemorated, and reflected at the annual HCN Black History Month Celebration. Staff of African descent shared their rich history and culture with the HCN community. The program opened with a warm welcome from the Mistress of Ceremonies, Lynette Sweet, and the singing of the Black National Anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing” led by David Jones.
HCN’s Executive Director, Dr. April Y. Silas, elegantly spoke about the power of ancestors. She shared the ways in which ancestors inspire, protect and lead us into our destiny. After her talk concluded, Dr. Silas led the pouring of libations.
Cirrena Troutt followed with an excerpt reading from one of her favorite books, We Should
All Be Feminists, by Nigerian author and activist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She shared that, “I am inspired by Adichie’s work and it was really important to me to share Adichie’s piece with the community.”
Inspired by her recent trip to Washington D.C.’s National Museum of African-American History, Stephanie Jones shared the chilling story of Emmett Till. She spoke about the atrocious way in which Till’s life was stolen from him and shared heartbreaking historical photographs.
After mathematician Katherine Johnson tragically passed away on February 24, 2020, Mark Jefferson took this opportunity to honor her life and legacy. He detailed her many accomplishments during her time at NASA and shared with us their mutual love and passion for the sciences.
“A Theme for English B” from poet Langston Hughes was read by Andre Jackson. His melodic tone carried the divinity of Hughes’ words.
A poetic performance of Fatima Iman’s “Ode to My Dark Skin” was executed splendidly by Amira Mensah.
Stepping away from her Mistress of Ceremonies duties, Lynette Sweet told the story of how a T-shirt altered history. In her talk, Lynette spoke about two White activists who attended a conference in Chicago in 1969 organized by Fred Hampton, a member of the Black Panthers. A year later the two men caught the attention of one another while wearing the same shirt they purchased at the conference. They worked together to stage the break-in of the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania. Those stolen documents played a critical role in exposing the FBI’s illegal activities, including the murder of Fred Hampton.
Autumm Beard spoke about her upbringing in San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood. She passed around beautiful photos of her family and shared stories told by her Grandmother. She also spoke about her love for comics as a child, which has stuck with her through adulthood.
According to HCN’s Program Director, Dr. Hazel Benigno, “The program was multi-layered and provided an opportunity to truly celebrate the Black/African-American experience in all the layered richness it deserves. There were so many chances to learn together, laugh together, be vulnerable with each other, allowing us to deepen our community bonds.”