by Roger Walk
Chesterfield’s 25th Black History Month opened at the Fulghum Center last week with the R&B concert local sensations, Ordinary People.
The Fulghum Center has been a stand in for the kick-off concert at Virginia State University for several years.
The concert begins a series of celebratory and educational events that will take place during the month of February that is put together by a 12-member executive committee, which includes representatives of Chesterfield County departments such as Human Resources, Public Affairs, Chesterfield Public Library and schools. As committee chair, Mary Martin Selby explained at the opening of the concert event on February 7, a series of film clips and discussions at three locations (Feb. 18, James River High School; Feb. 21, Meadowdale Library;and Feb. 25, Virginia State University) will “encourage our communities to revisit the history of civil rights in America.”
The Ordinary People band and their vocalists Carlita Whitehead and Xavier Shannon engaged the approximate 300 folks in the audience, the concert including the soulful voices of two high school students. opening the evening’s musical program. Danyel Lee and Jonathan Martinez, both Thomas Dale High School seniors, had sung, danced and acted in lead roles in the school’s “Cabaret” musical performance in November. On Friday evening they kicked-off the musical celebration concert with professionally presented pop and musical favorites. During the following 90 minutes of soulful groove expertly intonated by the Ordinary People band, a few dancers populated the floor of the large multi-purpose room and found the groove.
Black History Month events end on February 25, and many more celebrations and educational events are scheduled at Chesterfield’s public libraries, James River High School and Virginia State University. The activities are meant to bring awareness and appreciation to the rich Black history of Chesterfield county and its people. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Chesterfield’s black and African American population contributes 23 percent to the county’s 2012 population of 324,000.