Percussionist Onye Onyemaechi performs at Pleasanton Library


Evan Garber

In addition to drum beats, Onyemaechi also taught the audience traditional African dance.

Evan Garber, Staff Writer

The Pleasanton Library is celebrating Black History Month, highlighting those in the art and entertainment industries. From performances to book clubs, the city is aiming to use black history as a way to grow and strengthen the community.

Honoring Black History Month aligns with the purpose and aspiration of the Library and Recreation Department, whose mission is to invite the community to start a journey of engagement with the programs, services, and resources we provide and to discover, connect with, and enjoy the features that make Pleasanton unique,” said Pleasanton Recreation Acting Communications and PR Coordinator Julie Eseltine.

Live performances

One of the performances was by Onye Onyemaechi, a famous African percussionist. His roots in Nigeria are very important to him as he loves to spread his family traditions. 

“When you are a child you grow up to experience how people live, how people get along with each other, the spirit of the culture, the spirit of the music, the spirit of the elders in the village and the community that shapes the psyche of the mind that allows us to be who we are. So the music and the dance is integral to get us fixed in our life and shaping our community,” said Onyemaechi. “The impact allows us to go out into the world, and have the wisdom and foundation to engage with everybody that we come in contact with, expressing love, kindness, joy, respect, fullness of life, true rhythm, true music, true dance.”

During his performance on February 19, Onyemeachi added a unique experience by offering people to come up on stage and play the drums alongside him or dance. If they did not want to go up on stage, they could either play the shaker or just sit back and enjoy.

“My favorite part was the audience participation and my takeaway was the importance of family and community shared by food, music, and dance” said audience member Virginia Garber.

A second show was a blues performance by local artists Tia Carroll and Frankie G. Both musicians took to the stage, presenting their own songs influenced by music legends such as Ray Charles and Freddie King.

Library events

Throughout the month, the both the library’s film and book clubs honored Black History Month with their February selections. The Book Club read Lakewood by Megan Giddings, which highlights the challenges of a working-class family and discrimination in medical experimentation. The film club watched I Am Not Your Negro, a documentary which is based on a project by James Baldwin that focused on the stories of Malcolm X, Medgar Elvers, and Martin Luther King Jr.

“We celebrate achievements of Black Americans and recognize their central role in the history of the United States in a way that endeavors to go beyond slavery and racism. While Pleasanton Library and Recreation calls special attention during Black History Month, our collections, resources, and programming are curated with intention to offer the opportunity for lifelong learning about topics so integral to the support of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive spirit of community,” said Eseltine.