Black History Month Celebration draws thousands

With the theme of Remembering the Past…Celebrating the Future, the Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners and the City of Quincy teamed up with the Black History Parade and Festival Committee to provide a week of festivities in honor of Black History Month in Gadsden County.

Members of the Black History Parade and Festival Committee included Anthony Powell, Monica Smart-Gainous, Octavius Jackson, and Cynthia Davis Holloway.

The 2nd Annual Black History Month Reception hosted by the Board of County Commissioners and held on Thursday, February 23, provided a night of historical recognition for black history icons from throughout the county and the grand marshals of the Black History Parade. Guests also witnessed the unveiling of the Art of Elizabeth Catlett from the Collection of Samella Lewis and enjoyed music by Joey Gilmore, an electric blues and soul blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist who has shared the stage with James Brown, Etta James, Bobby Blue Bland, Little Milton, and Little Johnny Taylor, among others.

 The weekend kicked off with the first ever Soul Stroll on Friday night in historic downtown Quincy.

With temperatures in the mid to high 70s, the weather was perfect for sipping, strolling, dining, and listening to different genres of music, including jazz, blues, hip hop, and rhythm and blues. 

Spanning the four blocks around the Gadsden County Courthouse, participants enjoyed live music and downtown restaurants Big Poppa’s Chophouse Steaks, Pork Chops, and Seafood, CJ’s, Kitchen and Catering, and J&A Seafood Plus, as well as vendors with authentic food for the soul at The Venue. 

A different band was showcased each hour beginning at 5 p.m. Stroll 1 featured DJ Leonard Barnes on the Adams Street event stage on the Westside of the courthouse, followed by  the Inspire Band on the corner of Jefferson and Madison streets outside LR’s Bar. Up next, the Ayanna Charisse Band took the stage on Adams Street on the Westside of the courthouse. Immediately after, Joey Gilmore  and his band performed at the Monterey Cigar Social, new to downtown Quincy. The final stroll featured Dexter Allen at the Venue. Allen performed many old school classics like Prince’s Purple Rain.

On Saturday, the 43rd Annual Black History Parade and Festival again drew thousands to downtown Quincy.

For the first time ever the parade route traveled down Jefferson Street, beginning at the corner of Stewart Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard and ending on Adams Street at the Courthouse Square. The Grand Marshal for this year’s parade was the National Hook-Up of Black Women, Inc. of Gadsden County, a group of women who continuously demonstrate advocacy for civil rights through their annual events surrounding Martin Luther King Day, highlighting the elevation of African Americans who represent service, support, and outreach throughout their works in Gadsden County. 

For a second year in a row, Florida A&M University’s Marching 100, made an appearance in the parade, followed by a performance on the Courthouse Square.

Former drum major Jarvis Ritman, who graduated in December, joined “The 100” for the special performance in his native county.

The parade was emceed by Joe Bullard, also known as  “The voice of The Marching 100”  and WCTV’s Lanetra Bennett.

Erin Hill – editor


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