COUNCIL — Living history is coming to Council in the form of a Black History Month celebration being held at a local church. Piney Grove Baptist Church is holding its fifth annual program focusing on the achievements of black community members.
Jewell Smith, coordinator of the program for the third year, said her goal is to send a positive message to young people in the community.
“I want people to know and understand they can be anything they want. Life is a struggle in itself, but I want young people to realize you can be anything. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t,” she said.
She hopes to make history come alive for attendees by introducing them to local citizens who have made an impact on their community. Calling the annual series “First Blacks,” which, she said, could also be called “21st-Century Firsts,” she focuses the program on those who have been the first black person in their field or have paved the way for others to follow.
“In black history programs, we’ve read about Harriet Tubman and about all these people, but they have passed on,’ Smith said. “I’m gearing it towards young people so that they don’t have to read about people that have already passed. I want them to come into contact with them and able able to say, ‘I’ve read about this person.’ This time they can say, ‘I’ve actually talked, shook hands with this person.’ I just want it to be more personal.”
In addition to making history come alive, Smith wants to send a message of hope to young people.
“I want them to accomplish their goals, but know that it won’t be easy,” she stated. Attendees are expected to hear how guest speakers moved from where they were to where they are today.
Past program speakers have included the first black register of deeds and the first black sheriff.
Helping the church celebrate this year will be a speaker from Newton and Sons Funeral home, who will be sharing the history of black funerals, including obstacles blacks have had to overcome, such as when and how they were allowed to bury their dead.
Also included in the living history celebration will be Lorenzo McDowell, who is affiliated with the historical Greensboro sit-in, Vivian Davis, who will be reciting Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, a soloist, and a community choir from Carver’s Creek. All speakers will be speaking on the theme, “From Then Until Now, We Have Come a Long Way, But We Have Yet to Arrive”.
Smith added, “There are history people right here in Bladen County that people are not aware of — people that we can relate to.”
The event will be held Feb. 21 at 3:30 p.m. at Piney Grove Baptist Church in Council.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.