Published Wednesday, February 15, 2023

black history monthFebruary marks Black History Month, which is dedicated to honor the triumphs, struggles, and strengths of African Americans throughout History, including the civil rights movement, artistic accomplishments, and cultural and political achievements. The Osceola Council on Aging (OCOA) applauds Black History Month and the many contributions every individual of color has made to our country.

“The annual observance is a month-long opportunity for us to recognize, celebrate and honor the roles African Americans have played throughout our nation’s history,” said Johnola Morales, OCOA Chief of Staff.

The observance, also known as African-American Month, has received official recognition from the United States government for more than 46 years. According to, every American president since 1976 has designated February as Black History Month.

To acknowledge the history, struggles and adversities of Black Americans, this year’s theme is ‘Black Resistance,’ focused on recognizing the resistance of historic oppression in pursuit of equality, according to the Association for the Studies of African American Life and History (ASAHL).

The theme is chosen annually by the ASAHL, an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements of Black Americans and individuals of African descent.

The OCOA is celebrating this month a little differently this year. By not only focusing on Black Americans and Black History Month, we are also focusing on ‘the influences’ of all cultural heritages including African Americans, Caribbean Blacks, Afro-Latinos, Afro-Peruvian, and others who identify themselves from the Black culture.

“As a Black Caribbean Latina, I celebrate our organization for being inclusive of all cultures,” added Morales.

As an example, an article by Brent Crampton, in the 2018 in Omaha Magazine, pointed out the influence the Black culture has had in music. In Jamaica, it is titled Reggae. Via Black American influences it’s considered hip-hop, disco, funk, soul, jazz, Rhythm and Blues (R&B), and then of course there’s rock and roll.

Likewise, throughout Spanish music, we hear the African drums, which essentially constitute samba styled carnival music from Brazil, while other music such as Bachata, Batucada, Cha-Cha, Mambo, Tango, Pachanga, Reggaeton, Rumba, Tropicalia and Zouk are also similar in sound.

According to the 2015 Smithsonian edition on Peru, Afro-Peruvian music is a mixture of Spanish music in which enslaved Africans produced and now considered to be: festejo, lando, Tondero, samacueca and contraputo de zapaeo which involves ritual dance traditions.

Fascinating, right? Well, music is not the only cultural cross over when it comes to historical ethnic resemblances. Food is another subject which has bonded and evolved over time into a myriad of ethnic and cultural similarities.

The OCOA will host events this month to celebrate Black History, along with many other integral and common heritages. We have planned for authentic food sampling, cultural artistic displays, and musical celebrations throughout the month.

“As a social worker who has provided counseling to many different cultures and marginalized communities, the need remains which is to be included and have a voice in society,” Morales said. “I am thrilled the OCOA staff works daily as an ally and partner within our community, to allow those many ethniticies and cultures to have a voice.”

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