Nea Community Learning Center Held Celebration for Black History Month

Camerine Ware    Talajah Zedd and Brittany Philippart (center) helped serve traditional Southern cuisine, Middle-Eastern cuisine and a variety of desserts and drinks at the event they spent a month planning.

The Black Student Union (BSU) at Nea Community Learning Center hosted its second annual celebration of Black History Month March 1. Black History Month is celebrated in February every year to learn about African-American history and celebrate leaders of the community. 

The event required a month of planning, led by Talajah Zedd, a senior at Nea who worked to pull off the big celebration dinner with the help of her teachers: Brittany Philippart and Sabunmi Woods. To get the celebration ready, the Nea community helped set up the numerous booths, dinner tables and the serving of food and drinks. 

Teachers, students, families and friends gathered to enjoy the celebration. Philippart explained that the event celebrated local black-owned businesses, youth voice and activism and provided educational booths to engage youth with the community. 

One of the goals of the event promoted youth involvement in their community. Students were given the opportunity to speak about their experiences as minorities and their leadership roles in the community. Afterwards attendees were encouraged to peruse the booths, eat and drink. 

The menu included traditional Southern cuisine, Middle-Eastern cuisine and a variety of desserts and beverages. At the dinner tables, attendees read about the biographies and contributions of prominent African-American poets, activists, inventors, athletes and musicians while engaging in conversation at their tables. 

Many booths featured the products of local black entrepreneurs, artwork of local black artists and literary works of prominent African-American authors.

Nea’s student photographer, Camerine Ware, featured his wide discography and recent works. Ware has taken more than 1,500 photographs of school-related and BSU events. Tarika Lewis, a former Black Panther activist, prominent Oakland-based visual artist and art teacher at Nea, prepared a booth where she painted portraits of attendees at the event. More than 20 books of literature were displayed that share the stories of the black experience, autobiographies and historical texts. 

Philippart brought black-owned cosmetics brands to display. She also sponsors prom scholarships at Nea and works as a MAC makeup artist. Kamille Beaves, a Kemetic yoga teacher, taught yoga and shared crystal jewelry pieces from her business. Sabuni Woods and her daughter showcased Dyad-se-young bath products at the event. A black community baker, Jennifer Addison shared baked goods there as well.  

Philippart explained that the event served as a way to represent the Nea family and empower students to follow their passions, share their voices and give back to the community. Nea’s BSU hopes that for future events they can continue to grow and expand the Black History Month celebration event with more booths and activities. They want to continue their goals of bringing the community together, celebrating African American history and empowering students to be leaders. 

“We hope to inspire youth to do great things in their communities by being great people,” said Philippart. “We hope that they learn where and who they came from historically and are empowered and embodied by the knowledge received. We also hope to inspire other communities by sharing with others.”