NMBLC celebrates 10th year of New Mexico Black History Festival

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — February is Black History Month, but the founder and director of the New Mexico Black Leadership Council (NMBLC) said people need to spend more time learning about Black history.

“What we want everyone to understand is that Black history is American history. It is celebrated, honored, acknowledged 24/7, 365 days a year,” said Cathryn McGill.

She said the organization wants all people to join the celebration and also recognize there is still work to do. McGill explains that the conversation needs to keep going and more people need to be involved.

That is why the NMBLC is hosting DECADES: 10th Annual Black History Festival & Events. The virtual festival aims to educate people about Black history across the state. It starts this month and continues through July.

One of the main events is the Asante Awards: Barrier Breakers. Asante means “thank you” in Swahili.

"We are thanking some of our barrier breakers. People like Judge Shammara Henderson who was the first African American female who was elected to a statewide office. She’ll be presented with her award by James Louis, who was the first African American male to be in a statewide elected office,” said McGill.

The festival will also look at history in the making — following the 2020 summer protests by Black Lives Matter and for George Floyd nationally and in New Mexico.

"What we want people to recognize is that this is a movement and not a moment, so we’re not just focusing on the protest or single incidents. What we’re saying is that it’s now time, and continuing to be time, to have conversations about institutional protests,” she said.

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