Black History Month

2024 Black History Month Celebration with Dr. Sian Proctor

In celebration of Black History Month, the City of Portage hosted a special speaker, Dr. Sian Proctor, at the Air Zoo on Saturday, February 3, 2024. Dr. Proctor is a geoscientist, space artist, and astronaut. She was the mission pilot for SpaceX Inspiration4, the first all-civilian orbital mission. She is the first African American woman to pilot a spacecraft, the first African American commercial astronaut, and the first African American to paint in space. She is the CEO of Space2inspire and founder of the nonprofit Proctor Foundation for Art and Science. Civilian astronaut and Renaissance woman Dr. Sian Proctor encourages individuals to use their unique, one-of-a-kind strengths to inspire through her motto, Space2inspire. Her poetic, whimsical book Space2inspire: The Art of Inspiration follows the creative journey of Dr. Proctor during her SpaceX Inspiration4 mission. A question-and-answer session and book signing followed Dr. Proctor's presentation.

Watch the 2024 Black History Month Celebration with Dr. Sian Proctor below.

In celebration of Black History Month, the City of Portage hosted Derreck Kayongo on Saturday, February 4 at the Air Zoo.  Due to an unforeseen personal matter, Lt. General Russel Honoré, who was scheduled to speak, was not able to attend the event.  Derreck Kayongo graciously stepped in to share his story of survival, discovery, and humanitarianism.

From a young Ugandan refugee to a successful entrepreneur, human rights activist, and renowned global health expert, Kayongo brings his story and guiding principles, coined as S.E.L.F., (Service, Education, Leadership, and Faith), to life in emotionally packed presentations that stay with you long after his closing remarks.  Kayongo is the founder of the Global Soap Project, which recycles bars of soap from thousands of hotels and redistributes them to disadvantaged populations.

We were fortunate enough to have Portage City Councilmember and guest host Vic Ledbetter sit down with Lt. General Russel L. Honoré for an in-depth conversation in January on Portage Connect.  Please click here to enjoy this special Portage Connect Podcast (previously recorded prior to the event).  

View the program video of Derreck Kayongo and a selection of photographs from the evening below.

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2022 City of Portage Black History Month Celebration

On Saturday, February 5, The City of Portage hosted Shoshana Johnson, a second-generation Army Veteran and first Black female American POW at the Air Zoo as part of the annual Black History Month Celebration.

In 2003, Army Specialist Shoshana Johnson was traveling in a convoy while deployed in Iraq, when her vehicle was attacked. Iraqi forces killed 11 soldiers in her company and captured six, including Johnson. Shoshana retired from the Army and received an honorable discharge on December 12, 2003. Her awards and decorations include the US Army Service Ribbon, Army Commendation Ribbon, National Defense Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, and the Prisoner of War Medal. 

Johnson spoke about her story of survival and ended the evening with a Question & Answer session and book signing.

Portage Black History Month Presents:

Local Leaders Spotlight: “Highlighting the Black Experience with Personal Interviews and Demonstrations.”

To celebrate Black History Month in 2021, Portage Parks & Recreation asked community leaders to share their stories. Every Friday evening in February, a local African American leader walked us through their journey through personal interviews and demonstrations. 

Watch all four Local Leaders Spotlights below:

Little Known Facts About Black History

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