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Black History to Be Shown, Told and Celebrated at Upcoming Festival

The City of Lakeland is celebrating Black History Month on Saturday, Feb. 18 by hosting its fifth annual Black History Festival at Jackson Park and the Coleman-Bush Building just northwest of downtown.

This is the second time since the pandemic that the Black History Festival has been hosted, and it’s back better than ever. It is scheduled to take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will celebrate the many legacies of Black pioneers in Lakeland and how they’ve influenced the vibrant community more than 120,000 people call home today. 

“At the festival, there’s gonna be a history room that goes through Black history through the 1800s to the 1980s, and it’s gonna go through various different topics,” said Jamin Smith, Digital Media Specialist for the City of Lakeland. 

The room will showcase local historical figures like the first Black Lakeland police 0fficers.  

The festival is celebrating influential local and national Black figures. One local figure is Larry Jackson, the namesake of the Lakeland Public Library – Larry R. Jackson Branch, who was an attorney and influential leader in the local civil rights movement.

“The significance of having the festival at Jackson Park is it’s for the community, by the community, and open to anyone outside the community,” Smith says. 

Jackson Park itself has much significance for the festival as it is home to the Lakeland Coleman-Bush Building, which was named after Black pioneers who helped bring positive change to the community.

“There’s going to be a variety of different vendors at the festival,” Smith said. “The key is that they’re from the community, so that’s important because it’s an opportunity for them to highlight the products they sell to the entire city and people from outside the city, whoever comes to the festival.”

Dancers from Crystal’s World of Dance will be performing an African dance tribute, there will be a kickboxing exhibition and local poets will be sharing spoken word vignettes.  

All who attend the free event are welcome to enjoy food, performances and vendors while appreciating Black history in a family-friendly environment.