Spring Valley Library celebrates African-American History Month

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For the third year in a row, the Spring Valley Branch Library held its annual Karamu festival in celebration of African-American History Month. On February 27, this community event offered something for every age, from performers, historians, student art, local community resources and activities for children.

For the third year in a row, the Spring Valley Branch Library held its annual Karamu festival in celebration of African-American History Month. On February 27, this community event offered something for every age, from performers, historians, student art, local community resources and activities for children.

Branch Librarian Charlotte King-Mills said the partnership between the library and community resources is not only provides for an entertaining and educational event such as Karamu, but also is an ongoing partnership that benefits the wide diversity of the citizens of the Spring Valley area.

Nestled in between an elementary school, a middle school and the County Teen Recreation Center, the library has many programs that make this library a “community hub” with all of the events and programs that the library offers.

Karamu, which means Feast of Feast in Swahili, is the annual celebration that focuses on the past and present of the African-American community.

There were many highlights of the day, beginning with the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir San Diego singing negro spirituals, which director Pastor Ken Anderson said has influenced every genre of America’s music today in one form or another. He also pointed out that many of these songs were encrypted with messages for those who were fleeing the bonds of slavery, becoming an important piece in African American history. Its joyous sounds filled the library, giving insight into much of the history not taught in our schools today.

The same was for Buffalo Soldiers John Roper and Trooper Green, who presented the history of the Buffalo Soldiers, in an interactive discussion. Roper, a member of 12 years said his grandfather was a Buffalo Soldier in 1870 and that he is dedicated to carry on the legacy of the role that the Buffalo Soldiers played in American history, what they did and what they still to this day, do not get credit for. His partner for the day, Green, is an original member of the local Buffalo Soldiers that was founded in 1940.

Platt College students were on hand to speak with people about their works of art, which were on display at the library through the entire month of February.

King-Mills said in addition to performers, activities for the kids, and community vendors, it also provides lunch for the people of the community at this event. Something she said, that is part of the many programs that serves the community every day.

“Every day we get a lot of kids that come into the library for after school programs before they get picked up by their parent,” she said. “It’s really a safe space for them to come. We provide snacks for them when they get here and we partner with the County Teen and Recreation Center to provide them with a dinner every day. We have programs such as our Science Club, Film Club, crafts, homework help so if they need help with their homework they get that as well.”

She said it is extremely important that cultural events as this, and its upcoming Fiesta in September that celebrates Latino Heritage Month really brings the local community together, provides them with resources and information that helps the community learn more about what its local services have to offer. With the socioeconomic and regional diversity of Spring Valley, King-Mills said these activities give the library and its patrons the ability to reflect on the community in providing them with programs and activities that honor their heritage.

“The Spring Valley Karamu honors African-American History Month by bringing community together to discover Black History and explore the cultures of the African Diaspora. Karamu in Swahili translates to feast, and we invite our neighbors to feast on music, art and dance while enjoying lite refreshments and celebrating history at this year’s program,” stated King-Mills. The Spring Valley Library wishes to thank the community for its support and extend a special thanks to its partners: the Friends of the Spring Valley Library, the African-American Association of County Employees, San Diego County Parks and Recreation, the Spring Valley Gym, Heaven’s Windows, and the Spring Valley Youth & Family Coalition.”

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