With February being Black History Month it was only fitting for the Springs Preserve to host a festival featuring Las Vegas’s black community last weekend. From 10 a.m.to 5 p.m., the outdoor areas and amphitheater were filled with music, food, and African-American culture.
The Black History Month Festival had a nice mix of speakers and music on stage in the central amphitheater. The emcee, comedian “Sweet” Lou Collins, started off the event on an uplifting note. There was a strong emphasis on the children and their futures. If there was an overall theme to the celebration, it would have to be family. Extended families intermingled, kids played together while elders looked on, and everyone came together as a solid community.
There was a little less emphasis on the history aspect of the event than one would have expected, however. Besides the series of cardboard posters of important figures in the local black community displayed around the grounds and a few old photos, there wasn’t much else about it. A centralized museum display dedicated to the history of African-Americans in Las Vegas and Nevada in one of the open conference rooms would have added quite a bit to the impact of the event. Unfortunately, black history, even at a black history festival, still seems to be underrepresented in 2016. The festival did represent and celebrate black culture and was unquestionably a positive event for the community.
As with the Mardi Gras festival at the beginning of the month, one of the best aspects of the festival was the food. Soul food represents the culinary contribution of black culture to our shared American heritage. One place absolutely stood out—Mario’s Westside Market and Catering. They claim to have the best fried fish in Las Vegas, and it turn out this not mere hype. The title is well-deserved, their fried catfish was simply out of this world. The two sides chosen with the entrée, yams and macaroni & cheese, were also delicious. Mario’s certainly earned themselves at least one new costumer.
Various local artists and businesses had booths to both advertise their wares and to reach out to the community. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department had one such booth with police recruiters on hand. It was interesting to learn of the variety of career opportunities they offer. With the recent media highlights of police relationships with minority communities, it was a good to find that our local department is making an effort to foster positive presence here.
The Black History Month Festival was a great event to attend. It makes one realize that while we are all Americans, there is a lot more to the interrelations among Americans of different backgrounds. It would be easy to say it made me see how much we all have in common, and it would be equally easy to say that it highlights how different two cultures can be while living alongside one another. One observation of note is that while African-Americans made up the majority of attendees, there were still a good number of white festival goers. That is as expected, but the interesting part is that there were no members of other ethnic groups present, at least to this casual observer. The implication of that is uncertain, but it is interesting to think about. Perhaps white and black Americans are actually much more connected than either group fully realizes. While both starkly different and incredibly similar, white and black America is inseparable.