On Friday, the City of Albuquerque announced the new name for the office dedicated to African American affairs, the Office of Black Community Engagement. This name change was recommended by community members and kicks off the City’s celebrations of Black History Month. There will be community celebrations throughout the month including educational webinars, tours of ‘Facing the Rising Sun: The Journey of African American Homesteaders in New Mexico, Vision, Belief, and Sovereign Ownership’ at the Albuquerque Museum, and a 90-day nonviolence pledge inspired by the civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King.
“Black History Month is a valuable time where we celebrate the heritage, legacy, and contributions of the Black community in our country and right here in the city of Albuquerque,” said Nichole Rogers, the City of Albuquerque Office of Black Community Engagement Liaison. “By collectively focusing our attention on the efforts of the leaders who have come before us, we can learn how to address challenging issues together including the elimination of the tri-cultural myth.”
Last year, a public survey was distributed to community members to ask for input on an updated name for the Office of African American Affairs to help distinguish the City’s Office from that of the State’s similarly titled Office. The name Office of Black Community Engagement better represents the mission.
“When we started the office in 2020, we recognized the need for the City to do more to strengthen our connection with Albuquerque’s Black community, to lift up and listen to diverse voices in government, and increase access to City jobs and resources,” said Mayor Keller. “This month, as we continue to honor Black history in Albuquerque and America, the Office takes a new name chosen by the community and will help facilitate conversations for City employees and community members about building a more equitable and inclusive city in every department’s work.”
This year, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the city issued a call for community members to take a 90-day pledge of nonviolence inspired by Dr. King’s “Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change.” Community members, including organizations and businesses, are encouraged to sign up and join one of many workshops hosted by City staff that discusses how to engage in nonviolent social change.
In addition to the nonviolence pledge, the City of Albuquerque Office of Equity and Inclusion will be partnering with the Somos Unidos Foundation and the New Mexico Black Diamonds to offer a free youth soccer clinic led by New Mexico United players. The New Mexico Black Diamonds is an all-inclusive supporter group of New Mexico United that aims to promote Black culture, remove barriers, and diversify the stands at soccer matches. The Office of Equity and Inclusion will also be offering workshops both to City employees and the public through its Culture Change Training Initiative. The City began the Culture Change Initiative in 2020 as a way for City employees to have opportunities to engage in meaningful conversations to make Albuquerque more inclusive and equitable. The goal is for every City employee to attend at least one workshop.
The Albuquerque Museum in partnership with the African American Museum and Cultural Center and the City of Albuquerque Department of Arts and Culture is featuring a special exhibit throughout the month of February in honor of Black History Month. The high-tech exhibit tells the story and honors the legacy of the first African American families to homestead in New Mexico. Tickets to the Albuquerque Museum can be found here.
For a full list of events happening throughout the month of February in honor of Black History Month, visit cabq.gov/oei.