The Orange County Heritage Council (OCHC) held the 42nd annual Black History and Unity Festival in Anaheim as part of the OC Car and Motorcycle Show on Feb. 5. The theme for this year’s parade was “Our Heritage: Reflecting, Advancing, and Uniting.”
The OC Black History Parade is a celebration of legacy and heritage for the county’s Black community, emphasizing their resilience and unity in light of the controversy and police brutality of the past few years. 
The parade traveled from Anaheim Boulevard to Water Street featuring groups such as the Boy Scouts, car and motorcycle riders,  and equestrian riders.
Following the parade was a heritage festival featuring food from vendors including restaurant Santa Ana Redds. The festival also offered free COVID-19 vaccinations. In addition, three stages — the Freedom stage, James Weldon stage and the We Up Next stage — showcased the talents of various Black musicians and speakers, including rapper Knoc-turn’al from Long Beach.
Santa Ana’s Crear Studio produced an exhibit in conjunction with the event entitled “OC Black History Parade Archival Exhibition.” This display showcased objects and newspaper articles that focus on the parade’s lengthy history. 
Another event produced in conjunction with the parade was the 9th annual OCHC Art Contest. The event encouraged students in grades ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade to create artwork based on a theme related to the Black community. This year, the contest’s theme was “the Black legacy cultivated by excellence in the arts, athletics, economics, education, service, health, and community.”
Three winners from each grade were chosen, and the 1st place winners had their artwork displayed at the Muzeo Museum and cultural center. These works will be shown at the museum until March 20.        
The parade had help from several corporations and members of the Black community. Its Grand Marshal was Kenny Latimore, a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter with hits such as “For You” and “Weekend.” He also founded the Kenny Lattimore Foundation, a nonprofit that helps inner-city children with problems related to education and mentoring within the category of fine arts.
There were several other Black celebrities present at the event, such as “Grand Theft Auto” voice actor Slink Johnson. Anaheim clothing and skateboard company Vans sponsored the “We Up Next” stage.
One important aspect of the parade lay not with the performers, but with the organization that founded it. OCHC helps fund the parade and other events, such as a Juneteenth celebration with music, an art show and spoken word poetry.
OCHC also hosts and funds scholarships such as the Helen M. Shipp Scholarship Award, an essay contest that challenges students in first to 12th grade to write an essay –– ranging from 50 to 600 words, based on the student’s grade level –– on a Black history figure, excluding Martin Luther King Jr., and awards a cash prize to the first place entry in each grade. The prizes range from $25 to $200, depending on the entrant’s grade level.
Bailey Kanthatham is an Entertainment Contributing Writer. He can be reached at bkanthat@uci.edu.
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