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February 24, 2014

Community gathers for first Norman Family African-American Heritage Program

NORMAN — Members of the community came together Sunday to celebrate Black History Month during the first Norman Family African-American Heritage Program hosted at Mainsite Art Gallery.

Norman Arts Council board member Anthony Francisco said the event got started after discussion of Black Heritage programs at the University of Oklahoma, realizing there was not one for the whole community to attend.

The event tied in with one of Mainsite’s current exhibits called “Selfie”. For example, visitors could go take a “selfie”, or a picture of themselves, with a gallery picture of someone like Malcom X.

“The theme of this exhibit is about ‘selfies’, so our idea was to have ‘selfies’ of African American history figures,” Francisco said.

The exhibit features 25 different artists from all over the country, with many of them being from Oklahoma, said Erinn Gavaghan, Norman Arts Council executive director. The exhibit will be at Mainsite for the rest of the month.

“We’ve been in this space for a little over three years now and we love to host community events like this so it’s really great to have all of you here today,” Gavaghan said.

The event also featured a short movie about the life of Nelson Mandela, two dance presentations by the Contemporary Dance of Oklahoma Ensemble and two songs. Everyone was encouraged to join in on the first song, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”, and the Norman Alumni Chapter Kappa Khorus sang the Kappa Alpha Psi Hymn.

Dancers for the evening were from the University School of Dance and included McKinley Willis, Hannah Jew and Megan Storey with choreography by Kiosh O’Neal Monroe.

The night ended with a showing of “The Tuskegee Airmen”. Tammara Williams-Dias with the OU African/African-American Studies Program, provided some information about the movie before the lights were turned down.

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