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Rochester Branch of the NAACP focuses on educating community

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – February 1 marks the first day of Black History Month. It’s an annual celebration of achievements by the Black community and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history.

Throughout the month of February, the Rochester Branch of the NAACP is hosting a full slate of programming encompassed in the group’s Black History Speaker Series.

“The whole purpose of Black history is to teach everybody in society the contribution of African Americans,” Rochester Branch – NAACP president Walé Elegbede said.

The organization wants to highlight that Black history is American history.

“African Americans are usually relegated to the footnotes of history and so this is really trying to bring that up,” Elegbede said.

The Rochester Branch of the NAACP works with a number of community partners to spread its messages.

“For us it’s really making sure that social justice is present for everybody and it’s going to take everybody to be able to do this work,” Elegbede said.

NAACP leaders say educating the community is at the forefront of their mission.

“We can’t not just talk about it. Talking about it is good for everybody. It lets our kids know about the possibilities. It lets our community know of all the wonderful contribution. That’s what this is all about,” Elegbede said.

Because educating can lead to lasting change.

“Just don’t learn about Black history and then don’t do anything. Learn about Black history, supporting Black-owned businesses, support diversity, equity, inclusion, definitely support the NAACP,” Elegbede said.

And while the organization wants to celebrate the wins for the Black community, there’s still much to do and the NAACP is currently working on addressing these issues.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done. We still have a lot of work with public safety. We still have a lot of work in just health equity. In some of these areas like health equity, economic equity. We’re making some progress there,” Elegbede said.

To kick off the month, the NAACP is hosting a solemn vigil to honor Tyre Nichols, who died after he was beaten by five former Memphis police officers. The vigil is Saturday evening at 5 at the Rochester Civic Theater.

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