‘Listen, learn:’ Chelmsford panel plans Black History Month events

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CHELMSFORD – With films, an art exhibition, a gospel concert and more, the town is hosting a variety of events for Black History Month.

But the goal is more than a celebration of achievement. Organizers, including the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, seek to broaden the conversation about race, equity and justice.

“We’re really, really excited,” said Cherrice Lattimore, of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, which oversees an exhibition by artists from the Merrimack Valley, presented at the Chelmsford Public Library.

A visual experience

The art exhibition includes the works of artists in many media, including painting, photography and fabric designs. “We spread the wealth around the Merrimack Valley community,” Lattimore said.

Among the artists featured is Lawrence’s Dwight Upchurch, who enjoyed drawing all his life, but began pursuing it seriously in 1969, while in high school. “It evolved into perspective, with black and white and color drawings,” Upchurch said.

“It’s a story, a timeline that we’ve been on before,” Upchurch said. I’ve done my artwork and at 71 I’m just starting to get my artwork out.”

Upchurch’s wife, Sheila Upchurch, left the exhibit, with African colors and patterns.

Dwight Upchurch said: “It’s a new kind of career for us…it’s a blessing for us, an incredible blessing…it completes the years we’ve put into these creative endeavours. I can only ‘be thankful and thankful for anyone who invites me to showcase my work.’

Andre K. Mills, from Westford, sets up one of his illustrations, part of an exhibition by Merrimack Valley artists at the Chelmsford Public Library.  The exhibit is one of the city's celebrations of Black History Month.

Film screenings

For the library’s Watch It Wednesday program, two films will be screened as part of the Black History Month programming.

On February 16, the library will present Thirteenth, a documentary by Ava DuVernay, on the rate of incarceration in the United States, including a historical perspective from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day.

The film is recommended for an informed public. Brian Petro-Roy, member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, will moderate a discussion on the film.

The documentaries, Thirteenth and I Am Not Your Negro, will be screened at the Chelmsford Public Library, as part of events planned for Black History Month.

On February 23, the library will present I Am Not Your Negro, a documentary by Raoul Peck and narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. The film traces the history of racism in the United States, with the reminiscences of author James Baldwin, including civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

The film is rated PG-13. Lattimore’s daughter, Lexy Lattimore, is the moderator.

Both films begin at 6:30 p.m. and pre-registration is required.

gospel choir

Boston University’s Inner Strength Choir will perform at the Chelmsford Center for the Arts on February 27, 2-4 p.m., as a cornerstone of the city’s Black History Month events.

The choir performs at Boston University’s Marsh Chapel, where Martin Luther King Jr. once gave sermons.

Cherrice Lattimore said, “The gospel led black people through slavery, through Jim Crow. It was our faith that allowed us to…know that a better day is coming.”

A calculation time

For organizers, Black History Month events are a way to draw attention to the contributions of Black Americans in many fields, including science, the arts, education, government and public service. public.

But organizers also hope event attendees take away something deeper. Lattimore said, “First of all, it’s knowledge and understanding. You can’t have change if people aren’t aware of what happened.”

More coverage

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Black History Month: Littleton educator reflects on fight for racial justice

The select council formed the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee after the death of George Floyd and is calling for bigger conversations about and ending racial injustice.

Lattimore said: “When you think about how the diversity, equity and inclusion committee was formed – because we were all at home watching a black man get murdered in front of us. “

Lattimore said: “It was the visual that warned people to say, ‘Oh my God, this is really happening. All of a sudden people are starting to pay attention, and people are ready to listen and learn. Then you have change.”

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