It’s mid-February!! In Laredo, that means WBCA craziness! My usual participation is only the parade but this year, I may not be around. I WILL be around to enjoy some free jazz at St. Peter’s Plaza in honor of Black History Month – YAY!! While I don’t think I have any ancestors from Africa, I won’t know until I delve a little more into my family tree. What I do know is that I enjoy jazz and it’s importance as a uniquely American tradition. Unfortunately, living in a 90% Hispanic border community, sometimes the richness of other cultures is overshadowed. Not that I am complaining but I do sometimes miss the diversity of other cities I have lived in.
Laredo once celebrated Black History Month when the African-American community was a bit larger during the Fort McIntosh years. From the city of Laredo’s history page:
Due to its proximity to Fort McIntosh, the neighborhood attracted a small enclave of blacks. For a short time in 1865, the post was manned by a company of the 62nd U.S. Colored Infantry. Since that time a number of black units were stationed at the fort, including Company K of the Black Twenty-fifth U.S. Infantry in 1906. The soldiers’ families and their descendants made their homes in El Cuatro and the small barrio across the tracks called El Tonto. Saint James Tabernacle and the Grayson school remain as the only architectural relics of Laredo’s black history.
Check out an article that my friend sent me from 71 years ago. Yes, I said 71 years ago.
I’m not exactly sure where the Grayson School was but I do know that the St. James Tabernacle still stands in the St. Peter’s neighborhood on Hidalgo Street. Laredo is so chock-full of interesting history :). One thing that at first was cutesy but is a fad that is on its way out is the Harlem Shuffle videos. Those now following the fad ignore its origin. Waywire released a video of reactions from those who live in Harlem.
So, enough already; but back to the free concert. Three groups will perform different jazz sets with explanations of their origins. The neighbors of St. Peter’s, as you may recall, work with zero budget and just ask, ask and ask. A big thank you goes to Ric Cortez for volunteering to help set the line-up and bring more awareness to American music traditions.
Unfortunately, we do have a borrowed stage that does need set-up so we are a little short on volunteers. If you have a bit of time, stop by St. Peter’s Plaza to help unload stage pieces borrowed from Laredo Community College (Thank you, LCC!!) and assemble them before noon. If not, no worries, but we do hope to see you at 6pm with your own chair or blanket to enjoy the evening. Unless, of course, you prefer Tejano music and will be heading out to the Jalapeño Festival or The Society of Martha Washington Colonial Pageant & Ball or the Caballeros Cocktail Party or one of the other great scheduled activities for WBCA’s celebration – all great events – all can be fun and all give Laredo a different kind of flavor. Enjoy your Friday!!