City Link hosted its annual public Black History Month celebration at the downtown bus terminal Thurs.
The program included artwork and performances by students from Peoria High's Preparatory for the Arts and Christ Lutheran School.
Unique Worthy, a graduate of Peoria High, returned to the event to perform a piece of spoken word that was less optimistic than her prose last year. Worthy’s lines spoke of “dying in the street,” and how black people feel “tired.”
“We’re fighting the same fight that Rosa Parks fought, that Martin Luther King Jr. fought,” Worthy said. “So, there are people who are tired. I’m not tired yet, so I’ll keep fighting ‘till I am.”
Her performance piece also underscored the pride she feels in being part of the black narrative. "My melanin makes me a queen," she said. Several women in the audience nodded their heads in agreement.
Worthy says she feels under the current president, it's imperative that African American youth advocate for justice.
Other speakers at the event included Bradley University’s Athletic Director Chris Reynolds and City Link’s General Manager Doug Roelfs.
Reynolds told the students to "be your authentic self" in the face of adversity, and he encouraged adults to be leaders in the community.
"Walk with the expectation that things will work out," Reynolds said.
His message didn't fall on deaf ears.
Peoria High senior Victor Solomon sang a few lines of gospel music, to accompany a skit that highlighted the stories of key leaders in civil rights, like Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. Solomon says he's been invested in Black History since childhood, when he started singing at his church.
“I even love it so much, I applied to an HBCU, a historically black college, and just got accepted yesterday, so I’m very excited about that also,” Solomon said.
He got accepted at North Carolina A&T, in Greensboro.
Solomon plans on majoring in civil engineering, with a minor in music. He says he sees himself down the road speaking at Black History events and inspiring African American youth to take on leadership roles.