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Mt. Holly Black History Forum one of the best ever

Mar 06, 2020 12:01PM

These lovely ladies, who are sisters, came from Charlotte for the Mt. Holly Black History Forum. Front from left- Myra R. Payne, Donna Robinson, Sheila Edwards, Lavone Samuel. Rear- Na’Tanya Hardin. Photo by Alan Hodge

By Alan Hodge

[email protected]

The 17th annual Mt. Holly Black History Forum was held last Sunday in the Grand Hall of the Municipal Complex and as the standing room only crowd proved was one of the best ever.

The Black History Forum was the brainchild of the late Mt. Holly African-American leader Jim Hope and a handful of other folks determined to preserve and perpetuate the history and heritage of their people past and present. Each year since its inaugural event, the Black History Forum has presented in music, word, and deed the legacy and lore of local African-America excellence.

This year’s event offered a spectacular array of presentations. The event kicked off with a welcome by Mt. Holly city manager Danny Jackson who correctly declared “There are so many beautiful people here.”

Several speakers addressed the crowd with remarks outlining the trials and triumphs of the African-American experience. Kings Mtn. High standout student Kennedy Barnes gave an impassioned oration using quotes from Maya Angelou and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to illustrate the pride and power she feels from her heritage. Special guest speaker Valerie Melton traced her own journey from the blue collar Mt. Holly neighborhood she grew up in to her current position as an advocate for black college students. Melton focused many

of her remarks on the importance and impact that the Historically Black Colleges and Universities program has had and continues to have on African-American students.

“Education is the great equalizer,” Melton said. 

As it traditionally has, the Black History Forum also featured plenty of soul stirring music. Groups including the Wesley Chapel Choir, the Mt. Calvary Men’s Choir, and the 3M Production singers belted out a number of lively tunes that had the crowd up on their feet and clapping their hands.

The event concluded with an interesting and thought provoking skit that depicted an interaction in the Montgomery, Alabama jail where Dr. Martin Luther King was being held back in the early 1960s. The scenario acted out the thought provoking and dramatic interplay between Dr. King (played by Johnnie Walker), a white jailer (played by Richard Meier), and a white minister played by Bill Reilly). The skit was written by Harry McDowell.

Overall, this year’s Black History Forum event was one to remember and everyone who attended came away with their own special memories of a great afternoon.