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February means Black History Month, and locally the observance is being highlighted by the Harford County Public Library and other community organizations.

Multiple library branches will be hosting African American genealogy seminars throughout February.

Family history

The programs will be offered at the Aberdeen branch, Feb. 8; Edgewood, Feb. 16; and Bel Air, Feb. 22.

Those interested will be able to learn about specific techniques and sources to begin researching their African American family histories, and will be able to discuss their efforts, as well as ask questions.

Anne Winkler, a librarian at the Whiteford branch, spoke at length about the upcoming presentations.

“Genealogy is one of the top five hobbies in the United States at the moment, and Harford County is no exception,” Winkler said, “so it was a great time for us to get together and host a number of the events.”

Winkler explained that upon being asked by a number of people to give them specific guidance on African American genealogy, she decided to co-produce the events.

“We’ll be focusing on not only the steps towards basic genealogy, but also with the different nuances involved with the African American branch,” Winkler said.

Slavery, for example, is one of the intricate details that will be explored.

“Of course there’s slavery, in which you have to research the plantation records,” Winkler explained, “but even after that, in the courthouse books, many times the black marriages would be in a separate section or in the back of the book. They wouldn’t be in the normal places that you would think to look, so you have to prepare for these different considerations.”

Winkler expects good attendance throughout the month.

“People are very interested, and I think some of it is because we’re becoming so distant individually,” Winkler said. “Some people are trying to reconnect, and they can do this by knowing their history.”

In addition to the February seminars, the genealogy discussion group meets once a month, on the first Thursday, to discuss a wide variety of topics for all forms of genealogy.

For those who want more of a hands-on approach to history, the libraries also offer their ancestry library editions. These editions are the online libraries of ancestry.com, and the service is free. Those interested are advised to visit their local library branch.

For more information, or to register for the events, call 410-638-3608.

Bunjo’s visit

The libraries are also hosting one of the most prolific speakers in Maryland during February.

Stanley “Bunjo” Butler, of Baltimore City, will be appearing at the Abingdon branch on Feb. 6 at 2 p.m., and the Havre de Grace branch on Feb. 24, at 6:30 p.m.

Known for his innovative talents of African oral tradition and dedication to aiding Baltimore City and county public school’s reading programs, Bunjo will sing songs and recite stories and proverbs from the African oral tradition.

“He has told stories in Harford County before, and he is wonderful,” Phyllis Gallagher, assistant branch manager for children’s services at Abingdon, said.

Designed for children in the fourth grade and up, the event promises to please and educate.

“It’s been several years since we’ve had him, but he’s always been well received,” Gallagher said.

For information and registration details, contact the Abingdon branch, 410-638-3990.

The education front

Hosting several upcoming events in recognition of Black History Month is the Aberdeen chapter of Omega Psi Phi, the first fraternity of black men founded at a historically black college — Howard University. The Iota Nu chapter, based at Aberdeen Proving Ground, will sponsor its third annual book dedication, 34th annual Mardi Gras and the 2010 Iota Nu Talent Hunt.

This year’s book dedication, which highlights the late Omega Psi Phi member and author Oliver W. Hill Sr., will take place at the Bel Air library on Feb. 6 at 10:30 a.m. Members of the fraternity will provide the library copies of the book, “The Big Bang: Brown v. Board of Education and Beyond,” the autobiography of Oliver W. Hill Sr., a lawyer who advocated for black Americans in an array of civil rights cases in the first half of the 20th century.

Dwayne Adams, social action committee chairman of Iota Nu, will present the history of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, which has 750 chapters throughout the world, at the Feb. 6 library event.

“We’re absolutely excited. I’m absolutely excited,” Derrick V. Brockman, president of the Iota Nu chapter, said. “We are looking forward to it. We are expecting a nice crowd, and are trying to get the public into it.”

Brockman explained that signed copies of the book will be presented to each branch of the Harford County library.

“This is an important event for the community, and we’re proud to be a part of it,” Brockman said. “The life of Oliver Hill Sr. was not only special, it was groundbreaking. We need the Harford County public to be out there and see it.”

Mardi Gras Ball

Iota Nu’s 2010 Mardi Gras Ball fundraiser will be Saturday, Feb. 20, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Richlin Ballroom, 1700 Van Bibber Road. Featured will be Magic 95.9 FM Personality “DJ Slice,” the Beyond Blue Band and a step show. Tickets are $62 with proceeds going to the Iota Nu uplift foundation. For more information, call Walter Wyatt, 410-908-6633.

The 2010 Iota Nu Talent Hunt will be Saturday, March 6, from 5 to 10:30 p.m. at St. James AME Church, 615 Green St. in Havre de Grace. This event offers “exposure, encouragement and financial assistance to talented young people participating in the performing arts,” according to the Iota Nu Web site, www.ques-iotanu.com. For more information, call Mark Thomas, 410-676-0846.

For more information on Omega Psi Phi, visit the chapter’s Web site or call Derrick V. Brockman, Iota Nu president, 267-977-5573.


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