Orange County kicked off Black History Month on Feb. 4 at the 43rd Annual OC Black History Parade and Unity Festival, where thousands gathered to celebrate Black heritage and culture.
The OC Black History Parade and Unity Festival was founded by Helen M. Shipp, and originally took place in Santa Ana. Anaheim has hosted the parade and festival since 2011.
Out of a population of over 3.1 million, only 2.2% of Orange County identifies as Black. In Anaheim, 9,707 out of 345,940 residents identify as Black, according to 2022 U.S. Census data.
Those numbers didn’t seem to matter, as Black families filled downtown Anaheim with song and dance before, during and after the parade on Feb. 4.
The collective of Black grandparents and parents attended with children in tow, sharing the triumphs and tribulations faced by former generations.
Musicians, educators, nonprofits and advocacy organizations gathered together to honor Black achievement in the community. Simultaneously, these groups acknowledged and challenged injustices faced by the Black community, calling for public action.
Although Black history is recognized nationally for only a month, parade participants emphasized that it is important to celebrate Black culture and acknowledge America’s history each day.
“It’s important to keep celebrating (Black culture) so that we continue to have values and make sure that the past isn’t repeated,” said La Vonte Wilson, 26. Wilson is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., a historically Black fraternity.
“Black History Month is not just one month,” added Napoleon Singletary IV, another member of Omega Psi Phi, “It’s every day.”
From the roots placed by past generations, new vines grow, as Black culture and traditions continue to be uplifted in Orange County.
Here is what the day looked like:
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