Around Amherst: Black History Month events begin with flag raising


Staff Writer

Published: 01-25-2024 10:58 AM

AMHERST — Celebrations and recognitions for Black History Month, being held throughout February, begin with the Pan-African flag raising on the evening of Feb. 1.

The ceremonial event is set for 6 p.m. on the steps of Town Hall, with a reading of portions of a Town Council proclamation adopted this week.

That proclamation highlights both Amherst and Massachusetts figures’ accomplishments, such as the freedom fighters of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and the 5th Regiment Massachusetts Voluntary Cavalry during the Civil War, and Edward Jones of Amherst College who, in 1826, was the second African American to earn a college degree. The proclamation also quotes former President Barack Obama, who said, “Every American can draw strength from the story of hard-won progress, which not only defines the African American experience, but also lies at the heart of our nation as a whole.”

The flag raising coincides with the opening of Black Experience in Amherst, an exhibit of the shared experience of African American communities, past and present. That will be open at Town Hall daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Jennifer Moyston, assistant director of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Department, created a brief video promoting the activities, encouraging people to visit the Civil War tablets at the Bangs Community Center honoring more than 300 Amherst soldiers, including the Black soldiers who delivered the message of emancipation to those in Galveston, Texas in 1865, and the Ancestral Bridges display at Amherst College’s Frost Library.

Jones Library will highlight Black authors and books and stories throughout February.

On Feb. 29, Amherst will have its National Day of Racial Healing, which typically coincides with Martin Luther King Day, but was postponed due to snow.

Cultural Council grants

The Black Business Association of Amherst Area’s “Still We Rise: Black Celebration Series” and the Center for Human Development’s “All In! End-of-Year Recital,” are both receiving $3,000 from the Amherst Cultural Council, the largest of 62 grants awarded this year.

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Matt Holloway and Julianne Applegate, who co-chair the council, recently announced $54,822 in grants for cultural programs in Amherst and throughout the region.

Grants of $2,000 or more went to the Downtown Amherst Foundation in collaboration with Amherst Regional High School to support arts programming at The Drake performance venue; to Restless Books to support an Amherst immigrant writing workshop and translating Emily Dickinson’s poetry with children; Ancestral Bridges for its “Reclaiming Our Narrative: Blacks and Indigenous in Amherst since 1776”; and to Silverthorne Theater Company, which is staging its 2024 season at Hampshire College.

The Cultural Council is also joining with the Amherst Business Improvement District in sponsoring a showcase stage for performers at the late summer Amherst Block Party.

Veterans Community Breakfast

On the first and third Friday of each month, the Community Responders for Equity, Safety and Service are inviting veterans to the Bangs Community Center for a Veterans Community Breakfast. The next breakfast is set for Feb. 2.

A designated veteran or veteran family member is expected to talk about the military during the breakfast, which aims to create a veteran-oriented community in town and to have stories shared.

For more information, go to, or call the CRESS office at 259-3370 or CRESS outreach volunteer Eugene Herman, a Vietnam War veteran, at 240-472-7288.

Ice harvesting

The commercial harvesting of ice from New England’s ponds and lakes for export, beginning in the first decade of the 19th century and expanding to producing hundreds of thousands of tons of block ice annually by the end of the 1800s, will be the subject of a talk Sunday at 4 p.m. at Munson Memorial Library, sponsored by the Amherst History Museum.

Dennis Picard, who has been demonstrating the ice harvesting trade for more than 20 years at museums and environmental education centers, will display some of the antique tools of the trade, including several invented in Massachusetts. Among the implements to be shown are a “pond saw” and a breaker bar.

The event is part of the ongoing WinterFest.

Leaky roof

Andrew Brace, representing the Department of Public Works Association, informed the Town Council this week that roof leaks are continuing at the DPW headquarters on South Pleasant Street.

Brace told councilors that the recent leaks entered the break room, where employees eat lunch. He asked that officials provide an update on the $100,000 the town previously set aside to make roof repairs at the 1917 buildingy.


TUESDAY: Community Resources Committee, 6:30 p.m.

THURSDAY: Town Services and Outreach Committee. 10 a.m.