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First African-American History Festival to take place Saturday

COVINGTON - In an effort to welcome newcomers to the county and to celebrate Black History Month, a new organization called One Voice is holding the first African-American History Festival from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday in Porter Memorial Auditorium at Newton High School, 140 Ram Drive.

The event is "meant to be informational and educational for young people during Black History Month," said Superior Court Judge Horace Johnson, one of the members of One Voice, a collaborative effort by local leaders, organizations and churches with the primary goal of welcoming and educating newcomers about Newton County.

At the festival, vendors from various organizations, including the mental and physical health departments, the Newton County Sheriff's Office and local churches, will hand out information, "in the event any of these newcomers want to know what's in Newton County," said Billie Cox, a minister at Springfield Baptist Church and one of the event's organizers.

Local students have also been invited to participate in debates, a history bowl and an essay contest, with winners to receive trophies at the event's conclusion.

There will also be a step contest between the step teams at Veterans Memorial and Cousins middle schools and Springfield Baptist Church.

A drama presentation will close the event, which is free and open to anyone.

Food vendors will be on site.

"They're the only ones allowed to sell anything. Everybody else is just providing information," Cox said.

"We just want to highlight and showcase Newton County - showcase the talent of the students in Newton County, the quality of education in Newton County, show the newcomers and regular citizens that this is Newton County - this is the county you live in and we want you to be a proud part of the Covington-Newton County community," she said.

This is the first event hosted by One Voice, and Cox said members are hoping it will be an annual celebration.

"We will be very active in the Newton County community doing other things at other times of the year," she said.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.