Join Temecula’s “Virtual Celebration of American Black History” throughout February

TEMECULA, Calif. — Area residents are invited to join the City of Temecula, Temecula Valley Museum and Old Town Temecula Community Theater as our nation recognizes and celebrates Black Americans’ many achievements and contributions to our great country.

In celebration of Black History Month, the Temecula Valley Museum will honor the contributions to American History by Black Americans through links on the museum’s website. The celebration will feature music, history, culture, food, art, and a virtual photography exhibit: Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad.

The month-long Virtual Celebration of American Black History will be presented on various social media outlets throughout February 2021, according to event organizers.


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“The City of Temecula is proud to present these events throughout the month of February recognizing the history and contributions of Black Americans,” Temecula Mayor Maryann Edwards said of the annual event.

“American Black History Month also provides an opportunity to celebrate and highlight the achievements of outstanding Americans who led the fight for freedom, equity, and diversity in our communities, and continue to stand together to pave the way for progress for all,” Edwards continued.

“Please tune in to our social media pages as we share the stories of Black Americans who overcame challenges and hardship to make America stronger and greater through their amazing culture, civic leadership, business, education, the arts, science, literature, military service, sports, and entertainment,” said Edwards; adding, “These events are a testament to our commitment to promote and defend inclusion, respect, and diversity, now and forever.”

Photographer Jeanine Michna-Bales has spent more than a decade meticulously researching ‘fugitive’ slaves and the ways they escaped to freedom. While the unnumbered routes of the Underground Railroad encompassed countless square miles, the path Michna-Bales documented encompasses roughly 2,000 miles and is based on actual sites, cities, and places that freedom- seekers passed through during their journey.

The museum’s website will also feature a recorded presentation on the Underground Railroad by Mt. San Jacinto College Assistant Professor of African American Studies, Dr. Morgan Hoodenpyle.

The celebration will also include a free Virtual Classical Music Concert streaming on Facebook and YouTube featuring classical cellist Anita Graef, who earned recognition for her music-making as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral performer, on Saturday, Feb. 20, at 5:00 p.m.

Born into a family of professional musicians, Anita grew up surrounded by music, began piano studies at age two, and cello at age four, making her concerto debut at twelve and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.

Later in the month, the City will be presenting the second showing of Richard Allen and Taran Gray’s thought-provoking musical surrounding the Civil Rights Movement, “Freedom Trilogy, Bayard: A New Musical”. It will be streamed free on Monday, Feb. 22, at 5 p.m. on Facebook and YouTube. Freedom Riders: The Civil Rights Musical premiered on Temecula’s stage in February of 2018.

In 1963, what would become known as the most iconic march in Civil Rights history was still a gestation stage without the right person to organize it, City of Temecula described.

“Some reluctantly, some faithfully, the leaders of the movement chose Bayard Rustin, the great civil rights strategist and an openly gay Black man, to organize and get the march on its feet. His ideas would be an advantage for the movement, and his life would be the obstacle,” said event organizers; adding, “This captivating, new musical features professional vocalists and top-notch performances.”

“Black History Month was formally recognized as a national celebration by President Gerald Ford in 1976,” Temecula City Council Member & Community Services District President, Zak Schwank stated.

“Every year in February, the City of Temecula proudly supports the Celebration of American Black History through events, exhibits, and educational experiences to reflect upon the many sacrifices and significant contributions African Americans have made to our country,” Schwank continued.

“Temecula’s Celebration of American Black History allows us to celebrate together and remember how important Black Americans have been to every chapter of our nation’s story,” said organizers. “Please support the Temecula Valley Museum, Old Town Temecula Community Theater, and Temecula’s Community Services Department as we continue to grow this engaging, entertaining, and annual educational celebration.”

City of Temecula contributed to this article.

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Trevor Montgomery, 49, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.