Montgomery County issues Black History Month proclamation

NORRISTOWN — The Montgomery County Board of Commissioners issued a proclamation formally recognizing February 2021 as Black History Month and acknowledging the efforts of the local planning committee.

“I just want to thank the committee members for making sure this event happened this year,” said Montgomery County Commissioners’ Vice Chairman Ken Lawrence Jr.

The Montgomery County Black History Month Planning Committee is comprised of members Lynne Willis, a case worker for Montgomery County Aging and Adult Services, Tara Gaudin, director of Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, Lora Gonzalez, the department’s assistant to Gaudin, and Norristown Municipal Councilman Hakim Jones.

“Thank you very much and thank you for your leadership as part of the committee in making this event happen,” said Montgomery County Commissioners’ Chairwoman Valerie Arkoosh.

On the printed copy of the proclamation read Feb. 4, there was space designated for Arkoosh and Lawrence’s signatures.

Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, the lone Republican on the three-member governing board, was not listed on the declaration.

Black History Week was initially created by historian Carter G. Woodson on Feb. 12, 1926, but it was later expanded to a month-long observance in the 1970s, according to county officials. While programming events are typically held in person, due to the ongoing public health crisis associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the group decided to hold a series of virtual forums throughout February.

“Every year, Montgomery County staff and community members have joined to publicly celebrate and recognize the rich tapestry of African-Americans in this country and throughout history, and this year, despite not being to do this in person due to the pandemic, we were determined to continue this wonderful tradition,” Gaudin said in a statement.

This year’s theme is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity,” inspired by the Association for the Study of African American Life & History, according to the county’s event website.

“The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services has many employees who will be putting on four weeks of Black history celebrations,” Jones said during Thursday’s commissioners meeting.

The discussions, which will be broadcast via Zoom and streamed live on the county’s health and human services Facebook page, will cover a range of topics including family and planning and faith. Attendance is free.

“I know the committee puts a lot of time in this,” Lawrence said. “You’ve done a fabulous job of getting speakers from our community in all of the areas, faith leaders, criminal justice, and I’m looking forward to seeing some of the programs.”

The Feb. 3 inaugural event covered education.

“I just want to thank the group that has been working entirely in a volunteer capacity to put this event together,” Arkoosh said. “Normally, this is a one-day in person event, and obviously that had to change this year, but the group got off to a great start yesterday.”

The next virtual forum is scheduled for noon-1:15 p.m. on Wednesday and will cover criminal justice. Panelists include Magisterial District Judge Gregory Scott, Norristown Police Chief Mark Talbot, Norristown Municipal Councilwoman Heather Lewis, and A. Nicole Phillips, a partner at Montgomery McCracken’s litigation department.

Committee members expressed their appreciation to the local legislators and Montgomery County’s Deputy Chief Operating Officer Barbara O’Malley for their support.

“I thank you again for supporting us and also participating, and we look forward to the next three weeks,” Gonzalez said.

Those interested in attending this month’s events should register online at www.montcopa.org/blackhistorymonth. Forum participants will also have the opportunity to ask questions during the forum, according to county officials.

For more information, and to submit a question contact Gonzalez by calling 610-278-3677, or via email at lgonzale@montcopa.org.

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