Dr. Carliss McGhee and Dr. Morris with city and state officials. (Courtesy photo)

The city of Inglewood hosted this year’s Black History Celebration on Market Street on Feb. 24, to showcase art, poetry, fashion, dance, music and food through families and neighbors alike.

Things kicked off at 11 a.m., which was followed by block schedule of performances. There were two stages; Nutwood Street Stage was filled with local musicians and deejays curating the melodic vibes while the Queen Street Stage gave a platform for the city’s own artists and speech contest winners.

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KJLH hosted the schedule, presenting each performer or group. We saw a standing ovation from the audience after a ethereal performance of African classical music from Abiodun Koya, who has also been highlighted for her Fest Afrik fashion showcase.

A model in the Fest Afrik Fashion Showcase. (Courtesy photo)

In partnership with the city, school district administrators and board members were in attendance to talk about their mission among the festivities. Inglewood Unified School District’s County Administrator Dr. James Morris and Board President Dr. Carliss McGhee shared their goals for participating in the event.

“Today, we hope two things – one, that the kids of our district find and see who their community is, and two, [discover] who they are as artists,” said Dr. Morris.

“It demonstrates the work we are trying to do in the district to really say children have all kinds of interests and all kinds of talents, and that really is our job.”

Artwork by students were displayed at the Miracle Theater. (Courtesy photo)

IUSD staff and their team were stationed at Miracle Theater where students had their expressions on full display. Whether it was recreating historical moments or detailing forgotten heroes, it was all to prove why it is important to recognize the journey because you cannot see what is ahead.

It was only last month that Dr. Morris had to address the district’s students, parents, and staff about the upcoming changes for the IUSD. School closures and budget cuts were mentioned, but he ended the memo with a hopeful note that the focus for its students was rediscovering joy in learning and exploring their personal interests. And the work at the festival shows the beginning steps to IUSD’s plan.

Dr. James Morris, center, with the MLK Speech Contest winners. (Courtesy photo)

Board President Dr. Carliss McGhee also explained why events like the festival enhance the work IUSD does day-to-day.

“Anytime we can take our community outside and bring them together to engage, they get a chance to see things up close and in-person as opposed to reading about it online or in the blogs,” said Dr. McGhee.

“It’s an opportunity to put humanity into the things that are happening in the district. They see our children’s artwork, they get to meet many of our administrators, and have that one-on-one time as opposed to board meetings. I’ve been doing this work for over 13 years and my focus has been to bring in the funding needed to provide resources like I’ve proven in the past. But all that work is worth nothing if it’s taken out in a year. I want to make sure the district remains competitive against the others,” she added.

As Black History Month concluded, many people expressed appreciation for seeing the community come together to support Black creativity, businesses, and education. One resident commented, “Inglewood has always been rich in heritage and culture and this festival was nothing short of honoring and articulating that.”

A young attendee dances with performers on Market St. (Courtesy photo)