African-American history essay winners honored at Fort Steuben

STEUBENVILLE – Learning about African-American inventors who made major advances in the world of medicine and other fields was part of the annual Black History Month Film Festival Saturday at the Historic Fort Steuben visitors’ center.

The event included several short films about African-American inventors and their history, as well as the awarding of certificates to youngsters writing essays on African-American inventors. The festival also included quizzes, refreshments, cookies, coffee, books, book markers and a large audience prepared to learn about African-American achievements during Black History Month.

The event, co-organized by Asantewa Anyabwile, president of the LaBelle Neighbors Who Care organization, also enjoyed sponsorship from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Historic Fort Steuben and technical support from the WPH3 DJ Association, said Anyabwile.

After being welcomed, those attending were able to watch several short films about African-American inventors as well as the festival’s feature film, “Something the Lord Made,” said Anyabwile.

“It was the Vivien Thomas story,” she said, adding the black surgical technician developed a procedure to treat blue baby syndrome. “He never went to college.”

Thomas never graduated from high school and was held back for advancement because of institutionalized racism in the 1930s, yet he became an expert on cardiac surgery, eventually landing a position at Johns Hopkins University.

The festival “also was to show the adversities (black inventors) faced because they were black,” added Anyabwile.

The number of whites and blacks at the festival made this year a success, according to Anyabwile.

“It makes me feel great,” she said. “It gives me the energy to go one more year.”

Youngsters who were essay winners also had the opportunity to read their works to the gathering, as well as earn certificates for their achievements. The winners included Emily Allen, first place in the fifth- through eighth-grade category; Cory Hendrickson, second place in the first- through fourth-grade category; Kaylee Medas, second place sin the fifth- through eighth-grade category; Kandisi Anyabwile, first place in the ninth- through 12th-grade category; Hayden Martin, second place in the ninth- through 12th-grade category; Drake Ziarko, first place in the first- through fourth-grades category; and Antonio Lulla, honorable mention.

Judges for the festival were Eunice Baber, June Beal, Jacqueline Gibson, Ruth Stinson and Roberta Jordan.

Also at the fort’s visitors center is an exhibit on African-American history, running through the end of February.

(Miller can be contacted at mmiller@heraldstaronline.com)