A group of nearly a dozen local nonprofit organizations, school districts, labor groups, and county departments are collaborating in February to celebrate Black History Month.

The theme of the celebration, taken from the national theme, is Black Resistance, which recognizes the struggles, determination, triumphs, and resiliency of Black Americans.

Participating in the celebration are the Santa Maria-Lompoc National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), city of Santa Maria Public Library, The Fund For Santa Barbara, county of Santa Barbara, United Domestic Workers, Central Coast Labor Council, Santa Maria Bonita School District, Santa Maria Joint Union High School, Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley, Collective Cultures Creating Change Lompoc, and Santa Barbara County Behavioral Wellness.

The celebrations began Feb. 10 with a mental health panel addressing the topic Breaking the Stigma on Mental Illness. The panel was led by Santa Barbara County Behavioral Wellness, Project Heal of Santa Barbara County, and the NAACP.

Celebrations continue with programs at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18 on the plaza at Santa Maria Public Library, 421 S. McClelland; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19 at Lompoc Public Library, Grossman Gallery, 501 E. North Ave.

There will be assemblies at two middle schools in Lompoc, and the final celebration will take place 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 at Pioneer Park, 1150 W. Foster Road, Santa Maria.

David N. Moore, pastor of the Beloved Community Church, Santa Barbara, will be the keynote speaker. The celebrations will feature music and dance from various groups/individuals in the Santa Maria/Guadalupe area and Santa Ynez Valley.

Invited government leaders include U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, state Sen.
Monique Limon, Assemblymember Gregg Hart, Supervisors Steve Lavagnino, Joan Hartman and Bob Nelson, Mayors Alice Patino and Jenelle Osborne, Councilmembers Mike Cordero and Jeremy Ball.

Black History Month, which is observed every February, began in 1926 when Dr. Carter G. Woodson, “was disturbed to find in his studies that history largely ignored the black American population-and when blacks did figure into the picture, it was generally in ways that reflected the inferior social position they were assigned at the time.”

February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of the nation’s 16th President Abraham Lincoln on Feb. 12; and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, a self-liberated slave, on Feb. 14.

All events are free to attend, with the exception of the middle schools assemblies. However, all attendees wishing to receive a free meal must contact NAACP President Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt, 805-448-7869, by Feb. 21, to reserve a meal.

Those with disabilities requiring assistance or needing more information should contact Lyons-Pruitt.

Portions of the celebrations were made possible with grant funding from The Fund For Santa Barbara and the county of Santa Barbara Racial Equity Fund.