Leander officials, residents celebrate sixth annual Black History Month event

Keynote speaker Gigi Edwards Bryant is the chair of the Austin Community College board of trustees.

Keynote speaker Gigi Edwards Bryant is the chair of the Austin Community College board of trustees.

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Updated March 7 at 4:21 p.m. to correct Virginia Pearson's last name's spelling.

Leander’s sixth annual Black History Month Celebration, hosted by the Leander Chamber of Commerce and the city of Leander, took place Feb. 15 at Hill Country Bible Church Leander.

The event featured performances from Leander-based dance studio Center Stage and the Rhoers Club of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority’s Mu Beta Sigma Alumnae Chapter. The sorority is a national service organization, and its Rhoers Clubs offer young women opportunities to build self-esteem and skills to be successful, said Virginia Pearson, president of the Round Rock-based Mu Beta Sigma Alumnae Chapter.

Gigi Edwards Bryant, chair of the Austin Community College board of trustees, gave the night's keynote speech.

She spoke about the Great Migration, which refers to the black population shift from southern states to other parts of the country between 1910 and 1970. Bryant called the Great Migration one of the most underreported stories of the 20th century.

Bryant also talked about the current moment in black history.

“Silence embraces intolerance,” she said. “Speak up against intolerance and remove all doubt.”

The event’s annual award honoree was Lorlie Ellis, dean of business studies for ACC. Ellis has 11 years of experience working for different community colleges and started with ACC in August 2017. She also serves on the city of Leander’s Ethics Commission.

“My blessings started with an education,” Ellis said.

Eric Zeno, economic development manager for Leander, played a pivotal role in the annual event since its inception and gave opening and closing remarks during this year's event. Feb. 15 also marked Zeno's last day working for the city before leaving to become the economic development director for Lago Vista.

With Zeno's departure, Leander spokesperson Mike Neu told Community Impact Newspaper that the city does not know if the event will continue in 2020.

Additional reporting by Marisa Charpentier
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