Santa Ana honors the founder of the OC Black History Parade, Black Heritage with street signs – Orange County Register
It was something of an anniversary in western Santa Ana when officials and neighbors gathered on Thursday, February 16 to unveil the city’s first ceremonial street signs.
The brown and white markers with small stars and the Santa Ana logo are now a tangible recognition of the city’s black heritage and the contributions of the late Helen Shipp, founder of the Orange County Black History Parade.
Now Willits Street between Fairview and Bristol streets is called Helen M. Shipp Way. And the intersection of Willits and Raitt Streets is now Black History Square.
“It is an honor for us that she is honored,” said son Dwayne “BH” Shipp. “My mom used to make stuff for everyone, all of our neighbors.”
Shipp’s selfless and tireless dedication to her community, dubbed the “mother of the community,” is fondly remembered by her neighbors and residents of Santa Ana. She was quick to help people in her church or community, even inviting people into her home to eat or shower, said Dwayne Shipp, now president of the OC Heritage Council, which continues her work with the parade.
The signs, unveiled in a at times emotional ceremony Thursday, are the first for Santa Ana under a new program and will remain forever, according to city spokesman Paul Eakins.
The new toppers do not officially change the names of the streets, but provide a secondary designation to honor individuals or organizations that made significant contributions to Santa Ana’s history. Residents, council members, and neighborhood groups may apply for a ceremonial street sign topper; Applications can be found on the city’s website.
Curtis Shipp said his mother lived by the notion that there are “two important days in your life: the day you are born and the day you find out why you were born, your purpose.”
“My mom knew that from a young age, and she went back to that community, even though she had those kids, she went back to that community and did what she did,” Curtis Shipp told the crowd Thursday. “Find your purpose in life.”
Helen Shipp moved to Santa Ana in 1965 with her husband Felton Shipp. She died in January 2018 at the age of 82.
The first OC Black History Parade was held in Santa Ana in February 1980 and proceeded down West Willits Street and on South Raitt Street to West Monte Vista and the Jerome Center.
Various organizations have helped keep the event going over the years and it has since been moved to Anaheim.
The first parade had about a dozen demonstrators and about 100 spectators. It has grown to up to 10,000 families.
And when people — whether they live in Santa Ana or just passing through — see these brown-and-white signs, Dwayne Shipp hopes they spark inspiration.
“It’s possible that someday all the hard work that you do in your community to build up your community will and can and should be recognized,” he said, adding that the signs “should make them feel to be a part of our community… and a place of home.”
https://www.ocregister.com/2023/02/16/santa-ana-honors-oc-black-history-parade-founder-black-heritage-with-street-signs/ Santa Ana honors the founder of the OC Black History Parade, Black Heritage with street signs – Orange County Register