Orange County Black History Parade and Unity Festival Return to Anaheim
After a 2021 pandemic hiatus, the Orange County Black History Parade and Unity Festival will return to downtown Anaheim on Saturday. The Orange County Heritage Board will lead the 42n/a annual parade themed “Our Heritage: Reflect, Advance and Unite,” beginning at 9:00 a.m. with a parade pre-show and opening prayer.
After the morning blessing, the parade will begin at 10 a.m., beginning at Anaheim Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue, and marching toward Water Street before returning to Anaheim City Hall. The parade will feature marching bands, floats, community units and dignitaries.
The parade will be followed by a Unity Festival, formerly known as the Cultural Fair, starting at noon. The festival will feature live music and entertainment, food, vendors, a college fair and an art competition. Grand Marshal 2022, R&B singer Kenny Lattimore, is set to speak and perform a selection of his music. R&B historian Tyrone Dubose and model Ashley Nicole host the show.
The city of Anaheim has hosted the OC Black History Parade since 2011. It has become an iconic tradition celebrating the diversity and richness of black culture. According to the 2020 census, Anaheim has the largest black population in the county. Census data indicates that nearly 350,000 of the county’s 3 million black people live in Anaheim.
The OC Black History Parade was founded by the late Helen M. Shipp and celebrated 40 years in 2020. This local tradition began in 1980 in Santa Ana and saw an increasing number of participants, resulting in the relocation of the parade in Anaheim. His son, CHC President Dwayne “BH” Shipp, has carried on the parade’s legacy over the past few years.
In addition to typical family, fun and food, the event will provide the community with free COVID-19 vaccines and testing along with a health village, Shipp said. There will be three stages with entertainers and motivational speakers, he said.
The first stage, the Freedom Stage, will host jazz, gospel, R&B, motivational speakers and comedians. Among the artists scheduled are comedian Dexter Smiles, gospel singer Maurice Griffin and rapper Knoc-turn’al. The second and third stages, the James Weldon stage and the We Up Next stage, will be the youth and hip-hop stages. The youth scene is sponsored by Vans and Maserati Shellz will host the hip-hop scene.
In addition to COVID-19-related services and entertainment, the festival will host a virtual college fair, exhibitors, information booths, religious organizations, community resources and delicious ethnic food, Shipp said. Among the list of food vendors are Santa Ana Redds, Endless Eats, Word of Faith, and Pucker Up Lemonade.
The OCHC canceled the parade and festival last year very cautiously because COVID-19 cases were on the rise at the time, Shipp said.
“We had to be safe. It wasn’t just about the parade; it was about our humanity,” he said. “The world was going through something. We all needed each other. Even Disneyland wasn’t open; we couldn’t have a parade.
“It wouldn’t have been smart to have a parade in the mass of a peak,” he added.
Shipp said the 2020 Black History Parade saw around 14,000 people in attendance. While he acknowledges that these numbers predated the pandemic, he hopes and encourages everyone to step out and be a part of history this year, regardless of race, color or ethnicity.
“Our organization is ‘The Legacy Never Ends…New Vines Grow from Strong Roots.’ I’m a vine from the root my mother put down. I’m just continuing our community work that she started,” Shipp said. “Our mission is to serve our community.”
Those unable to attend on Saturday or wishing to learn more about the parade’s 40-year history can visit Santa Ana’s creative studio to view the OC Black History Parade archival exhibit. The exhibit is supported in part by the California Arts Council, and archives and images are courtesy of the Shipp family and OCHC.
42nd Annual OC Black History Parade and Festival of Unity
When: 9 am morning blessings; 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., parade; 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Unity Festival. Saturday 5 February.
Or: 305 W. Center Street Promenade, Anaheim
Tickets: To free
The exhibition will have an art walk after the parade this Saturday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Regular show hours are Thursdays and Fridays 4-8pm, Saturdays 12-4pm and by appointment on all other dates and times.
The exhibition will have a closing reception on Saturday, February 26 from 2-5 p.m. The last day to view collected photographs, videos, newspaper articles and artifacts from the event will be February 26.
“It’s a visual journey. It takes you back through the story to 1980, the start of the parade, and how it went through the community,” Shipp said. “You can’t have history without artifacts.”
Muzeo in downtown Anaheim will also feature artwork from the Orange County Heritage Council Youth Art Contest in its Studio gallery. And in the Kabel de Muzeo gallery, additional arches will illustrate the theme of the parade, “Our heritage: reflect, advance, unite”.
The exhibitions will be on view until March 20. Visit muzeo.org for more details.
Emily Melgar is a writing intern for Voice of OC. She can be contacted at [email protected]
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