Black History Month celebration heats up February
Last year they made history. This year they’re going to battle it out. Local non-profit organization Collectively Eclectic is throwing their second annual Black History Month celebration, Legacies 2009: The Battle, Feb. 13 at MacEwan Hall at the University of Calgary. Amid the last minute craziness of planning and preparing for the big day, Ify Chiwetelu, director of Collectively Eclectic, took some time to respond to a Q & A with The Reflector.
The Reflector: First off — who is Collectively Eclectic (players/roles involved) and what is the organization about?
Ify Chiwetelu: Collectively Eclectic (CE) is a registered, Calgary based, non-profit organization that strives to educate and entertain by using local artistic talent to create unique and inclusive cross-cultural experiences. The Collectively Eclectic team is a collaboration of five executive members: [myself], Serafina Dawley, Mina Fadol, Beni Johnson, and Aja Obin.
R: Where did the idea to host a celebration for Black History Month like Legacies come from?
IC: Legacies exists to fill a need; the need for an event that unites people from all races to come together and celebrate contributions that are often forgotten. Though various Black History Month events occur in our city, none are as all encompassing, as sociable or as inclusive as Legacies.
R: What did Legacies 2008 accomplish?
IC: Legacies 2008 brought just under 300 people together in a unique celebration. Rare is it to witness an event where there are spoken word artists, and break-dancers, African dancers, and beat boxers. Legacies 2008 exposed a diverse audience to diverse forms of entertainment while also providing some education as to Black historical contributions.
R: How has the celebration grown and moved forward from last year to this year?
IC: Last year’s event was more of a showcase, while this year there is more of a centralized theme, i.e. The Battle. Last year we were just excited to put the event on and showcase talent, I think we’ve appropriately edited ourselves this year to make sure that the lineup of performances is stronger, and all components of the evening are better woven together. Plus, we have a headlining performance this year, that being the Step competition between Solejaz Step (Edmonton) and Black Ice Step Team (Toronto)
R: What has been the response of the performers involved in last year’s celebration and the new ones this year?
IC: Performers last year felt the sense of community that we were trying to build. I think performers and attendees alike appreciated the evident time and effort that went in to creating this unique cross-cultural experience.
R: What would you like spectators who aren’t familiar with BHM to take from Legacies?
IC: Spectators should leave realizing that the contributions and effects of Black history are not restricted to one race, age, sex, or religion. Spectators will also leave with a sense of pride in the talent that resides in the city.
R: How important is it to you (personally) that Calgarians celebrate culture no matter their background?
IC: In today’s global society, cultures and histories are very fluid; no culture is completely self-contained. It is important for all people to celebrate the uniqueness of their cultures and also appreciate the influences from other cultures.
R: Do you think the city, organizations within the city and post-secondary schools should do more to celebrate this month?
IC: There are a lot of Black History Month events within the city, however I think that they should all strive to be more inclusive and reach outside of their communities. There are many people who don’t even realize that it is Black History Month. I think all educational institutions should have an obligation to celebrate the histories and contributions that have shaped this country. Black Canadian history is something that is largely ignored and I think it would be a great step for our educational institutions to dedicate this month to exploring that with students.
For tickets check out the store at www.collectivelyeclecltic.com, $20 in advance, $25 at the door.
The Legacies promotional video: