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Black History Month launched at special event

Teajai Travis performs on the drum during the Black History Month kickoff event last Friday.
Teajai Travis performs on the drum during the Black History Month kickoff event last Friday.

Black History Month is designated every February but festivities were kicked off last Friday night.

The 2024 Windsor-Essex Joint Black History Month kickoff was held at the Windsor West Indian Association’s (WWIA) Caribbean Centre with the WWIA being one of the presenters. The Amherstburg Freedom Museum was another of the co-presenters as was the Essex County Black Historical Research Society (ECBHRS).

Irene Moore Davis, ECBHRS president, thanked the organizations for coming together to hold the annual kickoff event. Davis added the Amherstburg Freedom Museum is hosting a list of Black History Month events on its website.

Cari-Lynn Ristic, a board member with the Amherstburg Freedom Museum, noted Black History Month’s roots date back to 1926 when it was first introduced as “Negro History Week” and was changed to Black History Month in the 1970s. She added it was formally recognized in the House of Commons in 1995.

“Windsor-Essex County is rich in Black history,” she said, noting cultural, economic political and societal impacts have been made.

The history of those of Black descent being in this area dates back to the 18th Century, Ristic pointed out.

The kickoff event featured poetry by Erik E-Tomic Johnson, music by vocalist Florine Ndimubandi, drum performances by Teajai Travis and stories from multiple speakers throughout the evening.

“We have a place. We have a culture. We are a people,” said Johnson. “This is why we celebrate.”

Jada Larkin, who was one of three emcees on the evening along with Johnson and Hailey Chase, pointed out contributions made over the years by groups and organizations promoting anti-discrimination initiatives in the region.

“We are here, we are there, we are everywhere,” said Larkin.

Black History Month events are being presented in Amherstburg at the Amherstburg Freedom Museum in partnership with the River Bookshop. The launch of “Black Activist, Black Scientist, Black Icon: The Autobiography of Dr. Howard D. McCurdy” with Dr. George Elliott Clarke and Dr. Brenda McCurdy, with moderator Sheila Barker gets things started Feb. 1. It is free and starts at 5:30 p.m.

The WSO family concert at the Nazrey AME Church featuring  Ndimubandi and the singers of the Windsor Essex Youth Choir highlights black composers Feb. 3 at 3 p.m. The cost is $5 and tickets are available at

Artist Dennis K. Smith will open his studio Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. and invite young people to learn how to dot paint. Youth can register by calling at 519-736-5433 or e-mailing It’s free and the studio is at 1130 Minto Ave. in LaSalle.  


By Ron Giofu

Black History Month launched at special event

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