JONESVILLE — A special program sponsored by the Jonesville Historical Society was held Saturday afternoon at the Yadkin Valley Senior Center in celebration of Black History Month.
The event began with a welcome and comments from Judy Wolfe, representing the historical society. Several items representing the history of African Americans, from the historical society’s collection were on display. Singing, a skit, and a special guest speaker were all a part of the special event.
Attendees were invited to sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” at the start of the program. Event Coordinator Carrie Martin also performed a song.
Serving as guest speaker for the second year was Shannon Smith, a Yadkinville native. Smith spoke about the continued importance of learning about the proud history of black people, which extends far beyond just learning about slavery and Jim Crow laws.
“When I was in school most social studies curriculums talked about Martin Luther King Jr. in January, of course; slavery and Jim Crow. These are all part of history, of course. Is our history all about slavery and Jim Crow? I don’t think so. All students, especially black students, need to know that we have inventors, doctors, athletes, politicians and so much more in our history,” Smith said.
He went on to say that everyone in the black community is a historian in their own right. Smith spoke about how much he had learned from those in an older generation about events in black history that occurred before he was born, such as the Greensboro sit ins.
Educating youth about black history is key, Smith said. He said everyone had a duty to pass that knowledge and history on to the next generation.
“All of this knowledge in our brains, all we have seen with our eyes, heard with our ears and experiences we have built means nothing if we don’t open our mouths and speak about it,” Smith said. “To someone, you can be a black historian.”
Smith acknowledged the necessity of a Black History Month has sometimes been questioned, but he said those that question the need for a month dedicated to learning and celebrating black history are misguided.
“Black pride is not hate, celebrating black history month is not reverse racism or a form of oppression or promoting fear,” Smith said.”
“Black hands, black minds and black hearts have shaped this nation for decades, so it’s important that Black History Month stays around,” he said. “It’s a time to look back on our accomplishments and greatness, but it’s also to continue where our historians left off. We all have the potential to make history. Educating ourselves and others, setting the right example and taking time to celebrate are ways we are reviewing what we learned from our history lesson.”
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.