“African Heritage, Inc. is also this year celebrating their 20th anniversary. Created in 1998, … we’ve been doing the black history month [event] every year since then,” says Anthony Awofeso, Fox Cities black history month celebration committee organizer.
The event is hosted at UW-Fox Valley in Menasha and is free and open to the public. Awofeso says the event starts with a series of speeches celebrating diversity in the Fox Valley.
“Almost every year we get Mayor [Tim] Hanna from Appleton,” Awofeso says. “He addresses audiences and welcomes them to the celebration.”
A keynote speaker follows Hanna’s introduction. Last year’s speaker, Amy Abugo Ongiri, an associate professor at Lawrence University, delivered a speech about the Black Lives Matter movement.
“The keynote speaker … will speak to the audience on subjects that relate to black history or any topic that promotes unity [and] educates the public about African Americans,” Awofeso says.
The event ends with a reception the organizers call the “soul food” section, which includes traditional African American food selections. Awofeso says this and the presentations not only celebrate black culture, but also promote intercultural understanding across the community.
“We continue to do things to promote understanding on people of different cultures and heritage,” Awofeso says. “And we can share our culture in a friendly environment. The reason we do soul food is to introduce cultural elements to get the conversation going.”