‘Black History is American History’

How do we create a diverse society where everyone’s contributions are celebrated?

Local leaders will address that question and more during a panel discussion at “The Future of Black History.” The event, beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, will also include music by gospel artist Todd Galberth and a keynote speech by Baltimore Police Chief Melvin Russell. It will be held in the council chambers at Cary Town Hall, 316 N. Academy St. The event is free, but registration is required.

“Black history is American history,” said Tru Pettigrew, who organized the event in partnership with the Town of Cary.

“Whether you’re talking about Maya Angelou or Sojourner Truth, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Medger Evers — whoever the African-American icons are in our history, they did not just impact the lives of African American people. They impacted lives in the greater society and helped shape the culture that we live in.”

Pettigrew, founder of Tru Access, is a speaker, author and entrepreneur who works on issues surrounding diversity. Four years ago he founded Building Bridges, an initiative that brings together African-American pastors, community members, and the Cary Police Department to improve relations between police and communities of color.

He will facilitate the panel discussion which includes local thought leaders from diverse communities. In assembling the panel, he wished to show that various races and cultures might view Black History Month in different ways.

The panelists include:

  • Mycal Brickhouse, senior pastor at Cary First Christian Church
  • Patrice Andrews, Morrisville chief of police
  • Paul Newby, North Carolina Supreme Court justice
  • Mamta Bisarya, Hum Sub co-founder
  • Patrick Patterson, president of Global Partners for Fathers & Families
  • Fiorella Horna, owner of Fiorella Consulting & Training Services

Pettigrew also wants the event to “connect the contributions of icons from the past and how they impact and influence present-day leaders and how present-day leaders are shaping the future.”

This focus on the contributions of past icons is at the center of Black History Month, which began as a way to bring awareness to the contributions of African-Americans, says Pettigrew. And while that goal is still relevant, he says we should also recognize our similarities as we celebrate our differences.

“This is a source of inspiration and empowerment, but also a way to get the contributions of all American citizens valued equally,” said Pettigrew.

For more information, search “African-American Celebration” at townofcary.org.

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