For a pair of speakers lined up for Thomas Nelson’s celebration of Black History Month, it is all about helping others.
K’Bana Blaq, a Newport News-based singer, songwriter, actor, director and so much more, wants to make sure people know they are loved. Dianne Cesvette, a registered nurse and administrator for Healthcare Training Solutions in Hampton, is looking to educate people about caring for the elderly.
“I go to schools and colleges, and do camps, teaching (people) how to love themselves over hating themselves,” said Blaq, who added he was deeply affected by a friend’s suicide at the age of 23. “That situation made me really question why somebody so young …”
His voice trailed off before finishing the sentence.
“He was just an amazing and beautiful young man,” Blaq noted. “I just said to myself, ‘If he would have loved himself more somehow, that hate that comes in would have maybe diminished.’”
The death of comedian Robin Williams by suicide also hit him hard.
“I said this patriarch just took his life, too. Something must be missing,” Blaq said. “The more we start enjoying what we see from one another, the world becomes a better place because we see the harmony that we make.”
He said he enjoys going to schools during Black History Month because he has a different perspective, particularly on Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. But when he explains this, he admits people sometimes take it the wrong way.
“I think Malcolm X was very passionate about his culture, but I think Martin Luther King was passionate about his culture being embraced by the world and the world embracing each other,” he said. “It was more humanistic, and that’s what I want. I want people to be happy. I want people to understand.”
The theme of understanding is also big for Cesvette. While her audience will be mostly the traditional college-age students, she will talk about caring for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s, knowing that a lot of those students could be – or eventually will be – caring for parents and grandparents.
“The seniors are the fastest growing part of the population,” she said. “Dementia is coming on younger.”
She’ll discuss the diseases and how they differ, what you can expect and how behavior changes as the diseases progress.
“A lot of people don’t really know some of the things, some of the whys and the hows,” Cesvette said.
Since she will be addressing a younger audience, she will take a different approach. It won’t be a 45-minute lecture.
“A little bit of tactile stimulation where there might be some exercises where they’re touching something or looking at something or hearing something, what it’s like to have impaired senses to try to get them engaged,” Cesvette said.
Blaq is looking to engage the audience also, but in a different way.
“I just really hope that someone leaves laughing and feeling good,” he said, “not feel like they’re being preached to, but just being given some gold that they really could use. Like, ‘I never thought of that.’”
Thomas Nelson will celebrate Black History Month with workshops and discussions at both campuses, culminating in the Presidential Leadership Award ceremony Feb. 28 in the Dr. Mary T. Christian Auditorium in Templin Hall.