Thursday, July 19, 2007
Hundreds celebrate life of Ida B. Wells
By SUE WATSON
There were lots of volunteers and group involvement at the Ida B. Wells celebration this year with about 200 turning out Friday for food, gospel music, dance and poetry readings.
Children were a big part of the three-day celebration of the memory of Wells, who is championed as the mother of the civil rights movement in America before there was a civil rights movement.
Wells, born in Holly Springs, is known nationally and internationally for calling for women’s rights, civil rights, human rights and speaking out against lynching.
Leona Harris, curator of the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum in Holly Springs, was impressed by the many church choirs and gospel singers, dancers, and children participating in the opening day activities Friday. The event featured face painting by Edythe Taylor, dance by the Ida B. Wells Star Jackers, a youth hip-hop group coached by Grace Owens, and the fish fry and barbecue with proceeds going to the museum.
Fifteen signed on for the Memphis tour of historic civil rights sites. Harris said the tour was exceptional and the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis had a special exhibit of Ida B. Wells memorabilia this year.
The Saturday night banquet at Hudsonville CME Church family life center drew about 100 guests. The life of the late Mary Walker Jones Penilton, a strong supporter of the museum, church, and harmony among the races, was honored this year at the banquet.
The brotherhood at Yarbrough Chapel CME Church on Highway 4 West hosted the Sunday breakfast with Rev. Jerry Christian Jr. giving the convocation.
David and Michelle Duster spoke about the Ida B. Wells legacy at the breakfast, Harris said.
The Star Jackers, youth volunteers, served as docents during the tour of the museum for the weekend and Collene McCullough with the group brought greetings to the Saturday night banquet audience. Members of the Star Jackers are Kenyada Burns, China Pool, Johnathan LeSueur, and Jade and Collene McCullough. The group choreographed their own hip-hop dance specifically for the occasion, Harris said.
Other descendants of Ida B. Wells who attended this year’s celebration included three grandchildren, Donald and Benjamin Duster and Alfreda Ferrell and four other descendants who made their first trip to Holly Springs this year.
The feature gospel group this year was the year was the New Angelic Voices of New Albany. Also performing was soloist Shanqueneta Hunt of Holly Springs.
Emcee for the gospel singing was Charles Anthony of Byhalia. Donna Hunt Jeffries coordinated the gospel explosion.
Sy Oliver coordinated the setup of the sound stage and Rust College provided the sound system.
A special recitation of the poem “When He’s In Control” was presented by Reynold Jones.
Total weekend attendance this year was estimated at over 400, Harris said.
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