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February marks a momentous time for the Town of Cary, North Carolina, as it actively engages in a series of events to commemorate Black History and African American Appreciation Month. These events are carefully curated to celebrate the contributions of Black Americans by shining a light on the rich tapestry of Black history and fostering a sense of unity within the community.
For 2024, Cary has made a concerted effort to showcase a diverse range of events that highlight various aspects of Black history, culture and achievements through the lens of science, technology, research, education, arts and music (STREAM). From educational seminars and historical exhibits to artistic performances and community dialogues, Cary’s Black History Month events provide a platform for residents to deepen their understanding and appreciation for the immense impact Black individuals have had on shaping the community and nation.
Amplifying Black Voices
One of the standout events for 2024 is the “STREAM Symposium,” housed in the newly-opened Downtown Cary Park and featuring influential figures at the top of their fields sharing insights, breakthroughs and information on an eclectic range of topics, including artificial intelligence, the wealth gap, the future of music and entertainment, and even a live STEM hip-hop battle.
Cary also has taken steps to amplify Black voices in the arts. Local artists and performers take center stage during Black History Month with an art exhibit by local North Carolina artist and speaker Willa Brigham, a screening and art class surrounding the film Black is the Color: A History of African American Art, and several other events showcasing myriad talents that span music, poetry, food and live performance. Music lovers can experience everything from “The Future of Jazz” with the North Carolina Jazz Ensemble to “A Brilliant and Uncertain Performance,” a unique live band and spoken word experience based on Dasan Ahanu’s poetry chapbook, A Brilliant Uncertain Rebellion. By featuring these artists, the town hopes to provide not only a platform for local talent, but also emphasize the vibrancy and diversity inherent in Black culture.
A Celebration of Culture, Diversity and Unity
By actively participating in Black History Month events, residents of Cary contribute to the creation of a more equitable and just community — a goal that is shared by its Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources department overall. The celebration of culture and diversity becomes an opportunity for individuals to educate themselves, engage in meaningful conversations and reflect on their own roles in fostering inclusivity. Such awareness is a catalyst for positive change, encouraging a collective commitment to dismantling systemic inequities and promoting a fair and just society — all while providing opportunities to showcase Cary’s robust cultural arts, programs and world-class facilities.
As Cary continues to host and support Black History Month events, it sends a powerful message about the value placed on diversity, inclusion and unity. These celebrations not only honor the past, but also lay the foundation for a more harmonious and equitable future. In recognizing and celebrating the contributions of Black Americans to its community, Cary can continue to actively shape a more inclusive and compassionate present and future. To learn more and view the full slate of programming, visit carync.gov/BHM.
Editor's Note: The name and title of the author has been updated from the print version.
Kim Roberts is Program and Event Coordinator at Town of Cary.