A blazing sun, with the breeze just so, Feb. 4 was perfect weather for the Black History Parade in downtown Anaheim. Community officials and leaders, members of churches, organizations and families filled Anaheim Boulevard between Lincoln and Broadway.
The fair, hosted by local Christian comedian Lester Barrie, kicked off with a beautiful rendition of the Negro National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by local talent Mykenzie Ward.
Following were tributes to the late jazz vocal great Etta James and Soul Train creator Don Cornelius. Both black legends passed away at the start of 2012.
“That’s our goal. To bring the families together,” said Veronica Simms, member of the National Council of Negro Women of Orange County.
The ceremony continued with some lively routines from the Anaheim High School Cheerleaders. Oakland-based group 513 Elevators performed their song “Goin’ Up.”
The crowd grew as church choirs around the city took turns singing Gospel songs. Local talents like singer ChyAnne, Christian band Rock Boy Fresh, Kim Harrell and the Briana Quarles Praise Dance duo hit the stage at different times during the afternoon.
As music rocked the main stage, business hummed along at booths lining the street.
The fair hosted informational booths for organizations like KJLH radio station, American Red Cross, Marinello School of Beauty, and Black Business Network of Orange County, to name a few.
There was some serious clothing and accessory shopping to be done with apparel commemorating African heritage. Arts-4-Less and Afri-Hats Clothing & Accessories were among the booths offering authentic jewelry pieces, artwork, shirts and African-inspired garments.
The soul food was, in many ways, the highlight of the day. Vendors unveiled their own versions of barbecue ribs, fried chicken and catfish, hot links, and a variety of sodas.
“The purpose of this assembly was to bring the African-American community together and to remember the long road our ancestors endured to gain the rights and freedoms available today,” Simms said.