County Kicks-Off Black History Month

County Kicks-Off Black History Month

Officials praise community’s contributions to Arlington and challenge residents to further promote diversity

The county began its celebration of Black History Month with a ceremony on Feb. 3 that honored the legacy and contribution of African-Americans in Arlington.

More than 150 people packed into the County Board room for a lively program, which included musical performances, guest speakers and a tribute to Rev. John Nicholas Jr., for his 30 years of work as a minister at St. John’s Baptist Church.

County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman praised the African-American community for the central role it has played in shaping Arlington into a vibrant community.

Zimmerman read the county’s official proclamation of Black History Month, stating that, “sharing the African-American experience increases interest, knowledge and understanding of African-American history from the beginning of slavery to the present, with the goal being to unite and build strong relationships with Arlington’s diverse cultures and communities.”

County Manager Ron Carlee told the audience that it was not enough to believe in diversity, but that Arlington residents needed to “show it with actions.”

“Just bringing people together doesn’t make us a world-class community,” he added. “It’s necessary that we explain all these differences, learn from them and develop a shared culture, a diverse culture.”

Carlee lauded the work of the numerous black county employees, many of whom have been serving Arlington for multiple decades. He also condemned the persistent existence of racism in American society, calling it “a more subtle racism.”

This was the first in a four-part series of ceremonies honoring African-Americans throughout the month. Each Friday a special program will be held in the County Board room, featuring dancers, singers and guest speakers.

During last Friday’s ceremony, Baltimore County Police Officer Harold D. Williams, Jr. brought the crowd to its feet with a three-song set of spiritual pieces.

Rev. Nicholas was honored for his 30 years in the ministry and invaluable work as a community leader. He was praised by Dr. Leonard N. Smith, senior minister at Mount Zion Baptist Church, who called Nicholas his “mentor,” adding that “there is no finer preacher or pastor than Rev. Nicholas.