41st Annual Black History Month Parade educates Downtown Riverside about voting

By Saida Maalin

The Riverside community united on Feb. 8 to celebrate the 41st Annual Black History Parade themed It Takes a Village: Let’s Vote. 

The parade and expo was coordinated by the Adrian Dell and Carmen Roberts Foundation. According to Russell Ward, the parade co-Chair, the foundation consists of dedicated volunteers focused on the development of events and activities that promote positive family and cultural interaction in a cross section of the community and the City of Riverside as a whole.

The times we live in and our current leadership has put into question integrity, family values and economic balance,” said Ward about this year’s theme.“Voting is the only way to address a change of direction.”

This year’s parade differed from previous years because of the upcoming presidential election. The effort was to educate and influence locals on the importance of registering to vote. 

Many vendors set up shop down Orange and Tenth Streets with food, entertainment and community services such as voter registration and information booths.

The parade, which took place in front of the Riverside County Courthouse, had headliner Tommy the Hip Hop Clown, entertainer and dancer, performed at the end which sent the crowd into a frenzy. Hundreds of families and fans of Tommy the Clown came from all over. The fans packed in front of the fences set up outside the courthouse to watch his team perform. Many fans covered the streets and even took to standing on lawn chairs to not miss a moment of the show. 

The groups that participated included award winning drill teams Explosive and De Vallejo Middle school, San Bernardino Westside Steppers, San Bernardino Pacesetters, Bryant Park dance and cheer and a few more groups of cheerleaders and dancers from the Riverside Unified School District.  Each group performed loud and proud and had the crowd cheering them on. 

Event coordinators took the stage at the end of the parade to remind the public to enjoy the expo and to register to vote at the booths set up inside. The last day to register to vote for the upcoming 2020 primary elections is Feb. 18. 

The next Adrian Dell and Carmen Roberts Foundation event will be the Empowering Young Women’s Conference on March 7 at Riverside City College from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Landis Auditorium.