Cecil College hosts annual Unity in the Community day
jantoshak@ chespub. com
— Cecil College held its annual Unity in the Community festival on Saturday, the 16th time it’s done so.
Organized by the multicultural student union at the college and funded in part by a grant from the Cecil County Arts Council, the event featured 13 entertainers, 10 exhibitors, food, raffle prizes and a number of activities for children, like face painting and a moon bounce.
It set off around noon with a welcome speech from Mary Way Bolt, Cecil College president, and then Rachel Acevedo sang a rendition of “The StarSpangled Banner.” Elkton Commissioner Earl Piner Sr. and Christian radio show host Marcos Merca-
Wilbert McKinley II stands with his son, Will McKinley III, in front of a banner for their Teach Fleet STEM program, which highlights minority and female innovators in STEM fields.
do emceed the event.
The day was one of cultural celebration. As soon as the bass line for the Beatles classic “Come Together” ( performed here by vocalist and ventriloquist James Shipley) started booming from the speakers, C. Laney M. Hoxter could be seen dancing by herself near to the stage.
When asked for an interview, Hoxter, who directs Cecil College’s multicultural student ser vices, said through an energetic smile, “Well, you can try.”
Hoxter sat down at a nearby table and explained the evolution of the Unity in the Community festival from when it began as a
“picnic of appreciation” in 1996. According to materials provided at the event, it now has 500 community partners, friends and family.
At its core, the event is designed to highlight and bring together the community’s cultural differences. There were tables set up for the American Indonesian Organization, the Cecil County branch of the NAACP, as well as for Hispanic and Native American heritage at the college, among others.
One table showcased several pieces in Wilbert McKinley’s “TEACH FLEET,” which is made up of Lego maritime vessels. Each one is tied to a mi- nority or female innovator in the STEM fields.
For example, a red firefighting ship honored Molly Williams, a slave in the late 18th and early 19th centuries who convinced her New York holder to let her help extinguish fires. She’s considered the first known female firefighter in the United States.
“I mean, everybody learns something,” McKinley said of his fleet, which he sometimes showcases in gyms and auditoriums, filling the floor space. “I’m amazed at the things I’ve learned, like that a woman invented Kevlar. I always figured it was an old man.”
Unity in the Community had an area set up for food from Flo’s Catering, and another for Rita’s Water Ice and Herr’s Snacks. Organizers asked guests who ate to make a $ 5 donation, which would be put toward the Eva M. Muse Memorial Scholarship — generally given to Cecil County residents studying education.
Some there saw the event as an opportunity to bridge the gap between Cecil residents and the county’s only institution for higher education.
“I think there’s an opportunity to merge the community with students and with staff,” said Mercado, whose radio show focuses on marriage through a Biblical lens. “I feel like [ the college] is a gold mine, but sometimes people are a little intimidated by it.”
Members of Bobbie Ann’s Dance Troupe perform a number from the musical “Hairspray.”