CUMBERLAND – The February issue of Allegany Magazine is the one that shines a light on members of the African-American community and their continued efforts and activism in Allegany County.
“Shortly after Allegany Magazine published an edition highlighting the subject of pride and members of the LGBTQ+ community, we started hearing from people in the black community,” said Shane Riggs, editor. from Allegany Magazine. “They asked us, ‘When will Allegany Magazine have the courage to address race in this area and print an African American or People of Color edition?’ The answer is — now February 2022. In honor of African American Heritage and History Month. And that’s an edition that may be way overdue.
The magazine cover features Cumberland’s Stephen Heath Gates in a photograph taken by local photographer Aaron Frazier of Incogneato Imagery. In the art world, when a man of color is painted or editorially photographed shirtless – or even less clothed – it traditionally means that at the time of the portrait the subject was a proud “free man”. He had once been a slave and is now “free” from the shackles and restraints imposed on him by former owners or even white culture.
“We would like to give special thanks to Tifani Fisher and the Allegany County Chapter of the NAACP for their assistance with this edition,” Riggs said. “We even asked them for help on how to title this feature. ‘Influential People of Color’ was the agreed term.”
Fisher also has a reader’s commentary included in the edit, updating readers on what she sees as the current state of affairs and events in the area.
“When I hear people from out of these mountains say ‘beyond Hagerstown there are no black people,’ I feel like screaming and tearing my hair out,” Fisher wrote in his contribution to Allegany magazine. “One of my goals is not just to let people outside of these mountains know we’re here, but to teach them our history so they know we came here. That we helped build this country with blood, sweat, tears and to rebuild again and again.
Mandela Echefu, owner of WheelzUp Adventures in Cumberland, also had an op-ed in the February issue.
“When you look at the history of Cumberland, Frostburg, and Allegany County, you learn that African Americans have lived there and helped build this community for decades,” Echefu says. “With the exception of the few mentions this group of people have received for moments of disappearance during the 28 or 29 days of February each year, the breath of their contributions socially, economically and culturally is not only wrong in societal consciousness, I’m not sure they are really valued.”
Riggs said he would like to see the “People of Color” edition become an annual feature.
“Contrary to the opinion that some people living outside of our area may have, Allegany County is an area rich in culture, arts, science and education. We are an area that often goes unrecognized for all the good that’s going on there,” Riggs said. “With this small and humble offering of a special edition of Allegany magazine, we hope to be part of the solution and part of a larger dialogue and an honest conversation about race in our community.”
For this reason, the February issue also highlights Allegany County’s “30 Most Influential People of Color.”
“The dynamic names and faces you are about to see have been submitted to us by correspondents past and present, by the staff of Allegany Magazine and our sister publication, the Cumberland Times-News, by elected officials, activists and people in the community who heard about this edition and wanted to make sure someone they looked up to was included,” Riggs said. “These are people who, through their tireless work, their actions, their deeds, their commitment, their life and their heritage, contribute or have contributed to our region in a rich, dynamic and exceptional way. These are the people you hear about, see on the news, or read about in the papers. And we thought our readers might like to get to know them better. »
People featured in the February edition include Parris Ashley, Clifton Brooks, Kia Corthorn, Jay Daniels, Alice Darr, Tony Dyson, Mandela Echefu, Jeney Felton, Tifani Fisher, Eugene Frazier, Henry Louis Gates, Stephen Heath Gates, Saiquan Jenkins , Frank Hamilton, Jarrod Harper, Ty Johnson, Juanita Cage Lewis, Ariyana Monee, Fulton Myers, Henry Newby, Shana Oshiro, William Clinton Price III, Ian Robinson, Keenan Scott II, David Smith, Jerris Smith, Derik Stephens, Aubrey Stewart, Sid Thomas and Eugene Younger.
The February edition also highlights N Da Cutt Barbershop and All That to Go, two respected local black-owned businesses; takes a tour of Jane Gates’ historic home in a story by Ellen McDaniel-Weissler; explores African-American culture of the past with writer Lynn Bowman; highlights the Broadway show “Thoughts of a Colored Man” and the play’s connection to Allegany County in a story by Ty DeMartino; and offers a special memorial to Fort Hill “Number Three” with news of the Fellowship founded in his memory.
Allegany magazine is available by subscription and for single purchase at over 40 retail partners in Allegany, Bedford, Hampshire and Mineral counties.