The Lebanon County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has announced several events in January and February, culminating in the 2nd annual Black History Month Freedom Fund Gala on Saturday, Feb. 24 at the WEPA Empowerment Center in downtown Lebanon.

“We are thrilled to offer these special events to the people of Lebanon County,” said Lori Burrus, chair of the local NAACP’s Black History Month 2024 Planning Committee. “Our hope is that our ongoing struggle for equal rights for all people, especially Black people and people of color, will make each one of us a better person, our nation a better country, and our world a better place.”

Here is a list of upcoming events:

Saturday, Jan. 13, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. – MLK Discovery Day at St. Mark’s United Church of Christ, 426 N. 8th St., Lebanon. This free, self-guided walk around the first floor of the church will have nine Discovery Centers for families to explore. A “Road Map” will follow Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic civil rights journey through nine U.S. cities. Activities at each city will encourage children to learn, be inspired, and consider how to carry on King’s work.

Monday, Jan. 15, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. — MLK Day of Service, helping with the market at Lebanon County Christian Ministries, 250 S. 7th St., Lebanon, stocking shelves, assisting customers, cleaning, and performing other necessary tasks.

Friday, Feb. 2, 5-8 p.m. — First Friday at the Lebanon Valley Council on the Arts, 770 Cumberland St., Lebanon, featuring artwork by students at local high schools, with light refreshments and music by Luther Tyree. Free and open to the public.

Saturday, Feb. 10, 2-3 p.m. — African drumming workshop by Studio Solomon at the On Stage Theater, 515 Cumberland St., Lebanon. Free and open to the public.

Saturday, Feb. 17, noon-1:30 p.m. — Tour of Cornwall Iron Furnace, 94 Rexmont Road, Cornwall, featuring a talk, short video, and tour led by site administrator Mike Emery focusing on the lives and experiences of enslaved African Americans at the ironworking plantation complex, including the enslaved collier Governor Dick. After the tour, participants are invited to the Lebanon Farmer’s Market at 35 S. 8th St. for a guided conversation and soul food lunch at Aunt Hocker’s Fish Fry. Rides are available for those without private transportation. Cost is $7 per person, not including lunch.

Saturday, Feb. 24, 6-9 p.m. — 2nd annual Black History Month Freedom Fund Gala in the second-floor ballroom of the WEPA Empowerment Center, 9 S. 9th St., Lebanon, featuring a soul food dinner served by Aunt Hocker Catering, music by the Michael Kitchen Band, speaker Sherry Roland-Washington and other programming, plus a free adult beverage and cash bar, dancing, and more. Cost is $50 per person, payable by cash, check (payable to “Lebanon County NAACP” and mailed to P.O. Box 74, Annville PA, 17003), or by credit or debit card through the BetterWorld payment platform. Gala sponsors include UPMC, Capital Blue Cross, Yoga for Kids LLC, Wellspan Health, the WEPA Empowerment Center, Bennett Automotive Group, Lebanon Family Health Services, SARCC, Salem United Church of Christ, Million Dollar Shot$, and E&E Discount Beer Warehouse.

The NAACP is the nation’s oldest and most influential civil rights organization, with a mission “to achieve equity, political rights, and social inclusion by advancing policies and practices that expand human and civil rights, eliminate discrimination, and accelerate the well-being, education, and economic security of Black people and all persons of color.”

Anyone wishing to volunteer for the MLK Day of Service or ask about the events can email the Lebanon County NAACP at naacp.leb.co.pa@gmail.com or visit its website.

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