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story.lead_photo.caption Comedian Derrick Keener performs Tuesday during the Black History Month Celebration at Texarkana College in the Truman Arnold Center. Photo by Jerry Habraken / Texarkana Gazette.

Area community members and organizations gathered in unison Tuesday for Texarkana College's first Black History Month Celebration. It featured inspiring performances from area groups, including the Union Elementary Step Team, the Texarkana Independent School District Jazz Band, Pleasant Grove Independent School District Star Steppers, comedian Derrick Keener and singer Stephanie Casteel.

TC's Student Dean Robert Jones said bringing all the organizations together to celebrate Black History Month meant more than just putting on a show.

"I think it was more than just doing a program," he said. "I think we kind of set a vision in place, and (it's) something they can now go and start working on achieving because too long do we have programs just for the sake of having programs. This is a program with a purpose. We need to value and appreciate higher education more than we do already."

Raymond Brown performs "I Have a Dream Poetry" during the Black History Month Celebration on Tuesday at Texarkana College in the Truman Arnold Center.
Photo by Jerry Habraken/Texarkana Gazette.

The celebration was the last of three programs TC scheduled during the month, which included a preview concert for "Rhythm and Ragtime" and a presentation by Larry Jefferson, the first black Santa Claus at the Mall of America.

Jones said having several programs allowed students more opportunities to celebrate the month.

"Our students couldn't come to every program, so if we give several programs, then we give them more opportunities where they can come and get that motivation," he said. "We look at Black History Month as a time when we can motivate our students where they can go on and do bigger and better things."

Many attendees wore traditional African attire, and displays set around the room included photos of African-American faculty and staff at TC.

The Office of Institutional Advancement also presented one of a series of videos their staff members created for Black History Month, which also feature those faculty, staff and administrative personnel telling their personal stories and how they are helping TC students succeed in both college and in life.

They can be viewed on YouTube or at texarkanacollege.edu/blackhistorymonth.

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