Black Lives Matter of Columbus will celebrate Black History Month with a new event, Black Art Showcase.

The gathering will highlight music, dance, mime, spoken-word performance and painting 7 p.m. Friday at the Columbus Learning Center, 4555 Central Ave. in Columbus. The night will close with a look back at the civil rights movement’s Freedom Riders via a fashion show.

Admission is by donation, with proceeds going to help residents of Flint, Michigan, get clean water, chapter organizer Brittany King said.

“I just wanted to see a celebration of the black community,” said King, whose previous meetings focused on learning. “I just wanted to give people the chance to appreciate black art.”

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King wanted to find a way to highlight the Freedom Riders, a mix of blacks and whites, because they have been heroic symbols in her own life and fueled part of her desire to be an activist for change.

Freedom Riders were civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States starting in 1961. They did so to challenge non-enforcement of United States Supreme Court decisions that segregated public buses were unconstitutional.

Joining the local chapter for this event will be members of Black Lives Matter of Northwest Indiana-Gary and members of Indy10 Black Lives Matter. Indianapolis members have participated in past Columbus events, and they have built relationships with members in the Gary chapter.

Black Lives Matter of Columbus focuses on peaceful protests to racial and other injustices and advocates racial harmony, understanding and fairness. It also aims to to invoke changes locally to assist with national reform to the criminal justice system, according to its Facebook page.

Among performers scheduled for the event are mime Jerome Wood, who most recently performed at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast, and singer Donell Sallard. The vocalist, a second cousin of legendary singer Sam Cooke, will croon Cooke’s tune, “A Change is Gonna Come.”

“Not only is this event good for awareness, but to show some black history in this particular month,” Sallard said.

Another element of the program will feature a painter, Columbus native and Fishers resident Rachel Sims. She will begin painting from the beginning of the evening to the end. Her finished work then will be sold to the highest bidder, with that money also going to people in Flint, Michigan.

Artistry and history

What: Black Art Showcase, featuring music, dance, spoken-word performers, mime and other art forms. Plus, a closing fashion show will salute the Freedom Riders of the civil rights movement.

When: 7 p.m. Friday.

Where: Columbus Learning Center, 4555 Central Ave.

Admission: Donations of any amount.

Information: Facebook page for Black Lives Matter of Columbus.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.