June 5, 2023

Egyptian Court No. 5 drives past the Riverside County Court House in the Black History Month Parade Feb. 14. The court joined numerous other organizations in celebrating the diversity of Riverside through the parade and following booth exposition, which has been running for 32 years. Bekka Wiedenmeyer | Banner

The Annual Black History Month Parade and Exposition helped encourage people from the community of Riverside to come together Feb. 14 in Downtown Riverside to celebrate black history, as well as recognize the culture and achievements.

Every February for the past 32 years, Riverside hosts the parade and exposition to display the racial and cultural diversity of Riverside. People and organizations from all over the city participate in the parade and exposition to show the community the pride they have in their heritage. The event featured floats, music and vendors to bring the community together.

In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since then, every U.S. president has officially designated the entire month of February as Black History Month.

Some students at California Baptist University attended the Black History Month Parade and Exposition to honor the historical month.

“It’s a good experience to see African-Americans in the community supporting each other,” said Torsha Collins, Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology student at CBU. “Besides them, there are a lot of different races here to support.”

The parade began at 10 a.m. and included floats from organizations around Riverside, such as the Second Baptist Church Youth Ministry and the Eastside Renovation Commission.

The parade also incorporated several dancing groups from around the community, ranging from children to young adults. As people continued the celebration of the parade, they lined the streets and cheered on the groups, who danced to music and waved to the crowds.

Megan Morrow, Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology student, said she originally decided to attend the parade because her internship with Women Wonder Writers required it. After volunteering as a station attendant and runner and viewing the parade in its entirety, she said she realized it was something more than volunteer work.

“I helped out earlier (and) will probably, hopefully (be coming back next year),” Morrow said.

For some people, the Black History Month Parade is a way to celebrate tradition.

“I grew up going to these parades every year, so it was just an automatic thing,” said Renetta Kepler, a Riverside resident and attendant of the parade.

Kepler’s daughter Ryenn Kepler, a student at Riverside City College, said she has continued the tradition and joins her mother for the celebration every year.

“It’s a tradition to come celebrate our community and just celebrate our black history,” Kepler said.

Vendors set up booths near city hall for people to enjoy and to raise awareness for various organizations. Some of the groups that attended were Covered California, Meals on Wheels and the California Highway Patrol.

“There are a lot of different people and different organizations that I didn’t even know existed,” said Samantha Albro, Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology student at CBU. “I think it brings awareness.”

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