COLUMBIA — For the first time in Columbia, Black History Month celebrations will include a free talent show featuring singers, dancers, poetry readings, motivational speakers and a disc jockey.
The event, one of many Black History Month observances planned by the city and MU during February, is scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 24 in the Douglass High School gymnasium.
Bill Thompson, recreation specialist for the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department, said the talent show has been in the works since October. Some performers from the talent show at the Black and White Ball held a few months ago will participate in the show. There also will be some new acts.
“We’re trying to get them (the shows) going so people want to show their talent," Thompson said. "It could motivate people to move to the next level."
There are 10 to 15 acts lined up right now, Thompson said. The show is open to people of all ages.
Thompson said he is especially looking forward to the motivational speakers, whose names have been kept secret so he'll be surprised when the show happens. He hopes the speakers will “motivate young people to be a positive influence in the community.”
“It’s something young people can relate to and identify with,” he said.
Also new this year for Black History Month is an exhibit — "Black in America" — at the Angus and Betty McDougall Center for Photojournalism Studies at MU. The exhibit is in 109 Lee Hills Hall, also known as the Missourian building.
The exhibit is divided into three parts:
- Charles Moore: Photographs That Made a Difference, a collection of iconic photographs taken over a period of seven years during the Civil Rights Movement.
- Documenting the Black Experience in Rural Missouri, a series of photographs that show everyday scenes over a period of 63 years.
- Young, Black, & Greek, a multimedia project that highlights the life of Reggie Wilson, a 19-year-old Missouri student in Kappa Alpha Psi, a black Greek-letter organization.
Ed Lambeth and his wife, Fran Lambeth, were viewing the exhibit on Thursday. Ed Lambeth was the associate dean of graduate studies at the Missouri School of Journalism for three years, starting in 1968. He is now a professor emeritus at the journalism school.
“I am down here because my friend Arvarh Strickland was the first African-American hired at Mizzou," Ed Lambeth said. "He’s a dear friend of mine.”
Lambeth met Strickland when the two men were colleagues at MU in the late 1960s. They now live near each other in Columbia and have remained friends, Lambeth said. Strickland also is a professor emeritus and served as interim director of the Black Studies Program at MU. The general classroom building Strickland Hall was named after the professor. Lambeth said Strickland was homebound due to weather and could not make the exhibit.
“I wanted him to know what this was like,” Lambeth said. “I basically wanted to see this display and its excellence."
The exhibit will be on display weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from 1 to 5 p.m. until March 15.