Black History in July was created from a simple desire to celebrate black culture and its impact on American culture in a consistent way. Many families and organizations celebrate, “Christmas in July” as a way to reignite the spirit of joy and giving during the traditional December holiday. Through our annual Black History in July Celebration, we hope to show pride, provide education, and find new ways to celebrate black culture throughout the year as well. We believe that black history and culture should be celebrated more than just at the traditional celebrations during Black History month. The goal is that other entities will join with us in creating new opportunities for all people to commemorate black history in addition to those in February. Our ultimate desire is that we can honor Black people, our history and culture, while commemorating the significant contributions we have made to the world; year-round.
The first BHIJ celebration was held July 27th at The Marcus Center for The Performing Arts. The focus was preserving “Black Church Culture” with an emphasis on hymns and hymn-style singing. Our special guest was award winning, singer, songwriter and gospel music pioneer V. Michael McKay.
McKay led a powerful conversation providing a glimpse into the history of hymn-style singing, its influence on other popular genres of music, and platformed its relevance within today’s modern culture. Guests were also able to participate in hymn-style singing throughout the session and honor the contributions of hymn writers past and present. The celebration also featured The African American Motorist Guide, also known as; “The Green Book”. The Green Book was used as a historical guide for traveling by African Americans during the 1940s-50s. This book provided the names and locations of businesses, hotels, restaurants and gas stations that were welcoming and safe for black people during that time.