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Virginia Black History Month Gala coming to Crystal City, a few months delayed

Flyer for the 2022 Virginia Black History Month Gala (courtesy photo)

The Virginia Black History Month Association plans to host its first event with an in-person component since the pandemic began in Crystal City.

The group’s annual gala, normally held in February, was pushed to June after the area recorded a high number of Covid cases due to the Omicron variant.

“We decided to move it to Juneteenth because that is the second African American-recognized holiday,” VaBHMA President Bill Jones said. “So we moved it to June 19 to celebrate Black history and Juneteenth, and then we got a bonus when we realized that June 19 is also Father’s Day.”

The event, which has been held since 2000, is scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel (1700 Richmond Highway).

“This is the first time we’ve had a face-to-face event since 2020,” Jones said. “We came back into the ballroom again in 2022.”

Attendees can choose to attend in person inside the ballroom or watch the event from their hotel rooms, according to the gala’s website. There will only be 500 tickets available because of the pandemic, Jones said.

The keynote speaker for the gala is Lynn Toler, former judge on the TV show “Divorce Court.” The master of ceremony is Julius D. Spain Sr., the president of the Arlington branch of the NAACP.

The theme for the gala this year is Black Health and Wellness, in accordance with the national theme for Black History Month in 2022. The theme aims to acknowledge the legacy of Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, as well as the “activities, rituals and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well,” like building medical schools and community clinics, according to the gala’s website.

The guests of honor and keynote speaker were chosen for their connections to the gala’s theme, Jones said. A seminar on health and wellness in African American communities is slated for the first day.

A determination on when the event will be held next year will be made in November, Jones said.

“There’s a chance that we could also host the 2023 event in June if the [Covid] number’s going to be high,” he said.

Apart from the gala, the association is also planning a health fair later this year to promote important checkups to underserved communities, Jones said. He mentioned field trips to African American historical sites as other possible events the association may hold, as well.

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