They danced, they spoke and they celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday afternoon at a showcase for the arts in the Historic Westside.
The event at the West Las Vegas Library, 951 W. Lake Mead Blvd., featured performances from the students of the North Las Vegas-based Trinity Conservatory of Performing Arts. It was part of Peace Week 2019, a week of events celebrating Black History Month.
Students performed in front of an overflow crowd, which watched dancers leap, twirl, dip and swing across the stage. A spoken-word artist, Detrick Miller Jr., lamented the killings of Emmett Till (in 1955) and Trayvon Martin (in 2012).
Cassandra Lewis, principal community program specialist for the city of Las Vegas, which co-sponsored the event, said the showcase promoted unity and peace through the arts. Black history isn’t taught much in schools, she said, but King’s birthday marks an occasion to do just that.
“There’s not a person who doesn’t know who Dr. King is,” Lewis said.
A segment of the show was dedicated to Angelina Erives, the 11-year-old girl killed in a gang-related shooting Nov. 1 that targeted the wrong North Las Vegas house. A slideshow cycled through pictures of Angelina and her family.
Angelina’s sister is a student of a dance program that performed at the event, according to the conservatory’s founder and director, Monica Armstrong.
Sunday’s event also honored two people for their work in the community.
Jessica Henry-Funches, vice chair of a community group called Diamonds &Pearls, received an award for her work with a program that supports women affected by domestic violence.
Henry-Funches started the program, Women United, last year through the Diamonds &Pearls organization. Women feel empowered when they have a support group behind them, and the group provides an avenue for survivors of domestic violence to support one another, she said.
Morgan “Mook” Harris was honored for helping start a youth basketball program, the CM Bulls, as well as a community service effort with his friends that has helped with backpack drives and feeding homeless people.
Harris’ father died in 2002, he said. Like his dad, Harris was involved in gangs growing up, he said. He watched as several of the people in his father’s gang died or were put behind bars.
“If I take that route, that’s how we gonna end up,” Harris said.
Youth programs and mentors helped guide him toward better decisions and a better future, he said.
Harris grew up in the Historic Westside, and winning the award in the neighborhood was special, particularly because it happened at an event celebrating King, he said.
“It means so much, I can’t even really explain,” Harris said.