In another pandemic first, Mayor London Breed, Board President Shamann Walton, and the San Francisco African American Historical & Cultural Society (SFAAHCS) livestreamed the kick-off event for the city’s 2021 Black History Month celebrations. The event is usually held in City Hall, but this year participants live-streamed from several locations throughout the city.
The hour-long event began at noon on Feb. 5 with an invocation from Pastor Kirk Davis, who is associated with the Kairos Fellowship in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood. Speakers included Mayor London Breed, Board President Shamann Walton, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, community leader and former president and CEO of the San Francisco YMCA Charles M. Chuck Collins Esquire, and SFAAHCS Executive Director Bill E. Hoskins, DDS. Between speakers, the Third Baptist Church Singers performed, including a powerful rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also called the “Black National Anthem.”
Collins anchored the event with a keynote presentation titled “The Black Family: Representation, Identity & Diversity,” which is also the theme for SFAAHCS’s celebrations this year. In his speech, he described the current moment as the “Third Founding of our Country,” arguing that today’s moral reckoning gives America an opportunity to become more inclusive than was envisioned in 1776 or after the Civil War. However, he also issued a caution, saying “this third founding is not promised — it must be fought for and earned.”
SFAAHCS will be hosting several more zoom presentations, information for which can be found on their official website. The three events will be a Family Histories Program on Feb. 12, a Genealogy Workshop on Feb. 20, and a Public Affairs Forum on Feb 26.
The society has a mission of educating African Americans and the general public about the history and culture of African Americans in the city. They host numerous programs year-round, ranging from community forums to cultural performances.