Black History Month

Feb. 6, 2024
| by:
Vice Mayor OD Harris

I find myself immersed in the rich tapestry of Black History Month, a time to celebrate the achievements, contributions and resilience of the Black community throughout our nation’s history.

Black history is woven into the very fabric of our society, with countless trailblazers leaving an indelible mark on history. It's essential to delve into their stories, appreciating the struggles they overcame and the triumphs they achieved against all odds. In Chandler, we recently recognized the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and the accomplishments of residents committed to human and civil rights.

This month, we honor the remarkable individuals who have shaped Chandler’s history. N.J. Harris was the first African American to live in Chandler and owner of the historic Bar-B-Q Pit in the Southside Village neighborhood. Rev. Willie Arbuckle was one of the first Black students to graduate from Chandler High School. Zora Folley was the first Black councilmember appointed to City Council, while the legendary Coy Payne was Chandler’s and Arizona’s first Black mayor.

Today, I am honored to serve our community as Vice Mayor, the first Black person to do so in nearly 20 years. Across our state and nation, we see a plethora of Black excellence in fields such as technology, entertainment, science and politics. By celebrating these accomplishments, we inspire future generations to pursue their passions and dreams.

Black History Month is an opportunity to spotlight the achievements of contemporary Black leaders and influencers. For my Power Conversations episode, I sat down with Miss Juneteenth Sascha Reveron and Civil Rights Attorney Benjamin Taylor, who is president of the Arizona State Bar Association, to talk about their achievements and get their perspective about Black history and life today.

This month provides a platform to delve into the history, culture and experiences of the Black community. A series of events are occurring at Chandler Center for the Arts, Chandler Public Library and Chandler-Gilbert Community College. You’ll experience inspiring sessions with speakers, a mental health panel, a fashion show and musical and theater performances. Several movie screenings, art projects and a Family Fun Night will be held. This month is packed with events and I encourage you to visit Black History Month for details.

Black History Month also is a great opportunity to support our local non-profits. South Chandler Self-Help Foundation will showcase the Kings and Queens Unbreakable event at Chandler Center for the Arts, while Chandler Men of Action will host their 12th Annual Awards Banquet at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.  

By honoring the legacy of Black individuals, cultivating positive change and fostering education and awareness, we create a world where diversity, equity and inclusion is celebrated every day. And, in the process, leave a legacy for our children and generations to come. Take part in Black History Month.