Thursday, March 5, 2009
Civil Rights icon Meredith keynotes Black History event
By ANDRE LOCKETT
Despite a wintry mix of sleet and snow, Marshall County’s third annual Black History Awards Banquet held at the St. Paul M.B. Church in Byhalia was an undeniable success.
James Meredith, a civil rights pioneer and the first African American student to attend the University of Mississippi, was keynote speaker at the occasion.
Meredith, a Kosciusko native, passionately discussed how he felt African Americans must stop all the in-fighting amongst each other and join in unity. He also gave his views on how President Barack Obama became capable of reaching the White House, and how African American parents need to hold themselves more responsible for the education of their children.
“The first step to black unification is we must all learn to operate on the basis of love. Learn everything you can. Do everything you can, but keep the basis of love,” Meredith said.
He mentioned that black parents need to recognize their own power when it comes to their children and how it is their job, not just the school system’s, to make sure their children know basic grammar and mathematics.
“President Obama’s mother and grandmother woke him up at 2 o’clock in the morning everyday to make sure he learned his ABCs and 1-2-3s as a young child. This was the beginning foundation of what was to become of this young man’s life,” he said.
According to the co-sponsor of the event, the Rev. Andrew Cheairs, pastor of the St. Paul M.B. Church, the annual banquet during Black History Month gives everyone in attendance an opportunity to honor not only the great historic figures of the past but also the future leaders of tomorrow. Even though bad weather held some people back from coming, the facility was still nearly filled to capacity as everyone celebrated the occasion and enjoyed musical selections rendered by the St. Paul M.B. Church Mass Choir.
In attendance also were state representatives Kelvin and Kimberly Buck, Department of Corrections Compliance Officer Danny Jackson and Marshall County Justice Court Judge Earnest Cunningham. Kelvin Buck, who co-sponsored the event with Cheairs, received the Special Achievement Award.
Buck said none of his successes would have been possible without his belief in God. He was impressed with the turnout at the banquet.
“I think we had a very good program this year as we continue our tradition of recognizing pioneers for their dedication and hard work,” Buck said.
Cheairs added, “The vision that we all must have is to bring unity to all our communities.”
The event brought a warm, family-like environment as fierce winds and snow flurried outside.
Special correspondent Andre Lockett is a staff writer for The Rustorian. She majors in print journalism at Rust College.
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