American Renaissance

Black History Parade Takes Turn

Organizers rename the O.C. event ‘multicultural’ to secure funding. Critics say that devalues heritage.

Stanley Allison, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 6

Orange County’s Black History Parade has been renamed the Multicultural Parade and Faire to broaden its financial support — triggering debate in the African American community over whether the event has been culturally diluted at the expense of its soul.

Organizers say the name change also reflects the multicultural appeal of the 24-year-old parade while still highlighting the achievements and contributions of black people in America during Black History Month.

“I had to change [the name] because the people that embraced me, embraced the vision I had, that came forth with dollars” represented an ethnic rainbow, said the Rev. Willie Holmes, chairman of this year’s parade and a pastor of Majesty International Center, a nondenominational church in Fullerton.

Others say, though, that turning the parade into a multicultural event devalues what had made it distinctive. “It is as if the black community has become invisible,” said the Rev. John McReynolds, senior pastor of Second Baptist Church in Santa Ana. African Americans’ “cultural and racial distinctions have been absorbed into a cultural melting pot that has no value.”

Helen Shipp, a founding member of the committee that planned the first parade in 1980, said it always invited people of other cultures to participate, but said she was initially “ticked off” by the name change.

“For all those years, it was the Black History Parade,” she said. “Why change it now?”

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