Black History Month Program held

Published 11:48 am Wednesday, March 13, 2019

With singing, portrayals of civil rights icons, and numerous reminders of the need to remember sacrifices made, the Central High Museum Black History Program was recently held.

Themed “Speak up, take action: It’s your right and duty to participate in the future of America,” the program was held Saturday, Feb. 23, at the White Oak Grove Baptist Church in Phenix. It raised $600 for the museum.

“We need to speak up,” said Hezteine R. Foster, president of the museum’s board of directors. “We need to act because we need to be a part of American history.”

A choir made up of members from various community churches performed as part of the program.

Before reading Langston Hughes’ “Freedom Train,” Veada Currin noted “I can’t change history. It’s history. It’s just a fact.”

She then recalled attending all-black schools until she was a senior, going to a restaurant and having to order at the backdoor, and paying a dime to use the restroom.

“If some people could have their way, it would go back to that way today,” she said. “I wish that these things were taught so you could know what it was like for your grandparents and great-grandparents.

Indeed, Currin’s comments were part of a common refrain: remember the struggle and sacrifices to get here.

A one-act monologue titled: “I Felt the Pain” was performed by the drama ministry of Blackstone’s Spring Hill Baptist Church. Several church members performed monologues as civil rights icons and activists.

Playing Rosa Parks as she was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat, Renee Bassfield declared “I let it be known that black people have been treated this way and endured too much for too long.”

As Melba Beals, who helped desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, Christine Smith noted “I wanted equality and why shouldn’t I go to the high school my parents had paid for with their taxes.” Then added, “Nine black teens challenged a racist system, and you know what – we defeated it.”

Minister Daniel Smith portrayed Frank McCain, one of four North Carolina A&T State University students who launched what became the sit-in movement at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina.

“The Greensboro Four and countless others have felt the pain, but from my perspective it was just a down payment to manhood,” he declared.

The Central High Museum, Inc. boasts that it is the only place in Charlotte County devoted exclusively to documentation of African-American life, history and cultural contributions. Exhibits tell a story from when slaves arrived in America, through the Civil Rights Movement, and on to election of President Barrack Obama. All gifts are tax deductible.

Open to the public in 2016, the museum and its 2,500 items on display are intended to foster and promote a greater understanding of the contributions of the African-American experience and impact on the cultural, educational and socio-economic aspects of Charlotte and neighboring counties.

The museum is housed in the remodeled building once known as the bus shop and the agriculture building, and is open for visits from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. the first and third Saturdays of each month.

Supervisor Donna L. Fore said she was glad to see the program hosted in a church, noting that it was faith that sustained those early civil rights crusaders.

“They were bold, they were courageous,” she said. “All that courage that flows through you, it came from them.”

“We all embrace our faith,” Supervisor Kay M. Pierantoni said in agreement. She recalled her mother telling her how she would listen to black people singing as they walked to their church on Sunday. “She would say, ‘You know, I always wanted to have faith like them.’”