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Black Easter to be commemorated Sunday

COVINGTON - The African American Historical Association of Newton County will commemorate the 38th anniversary of the Black Easter march for civil rights Sunday.

All residents are welcome to attend the event, which will take place at 3 p.m. at the Square park in downtown Covington.

State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta, will be the keynote speaker.

Brooks was one of the original marchers, joining more than 5,000 others who walked from Saint Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church of Covington through city neighborhoods to the Square park downtown.

This is the third consecutive year the event has been commemorated with a public ceremony.

"As long as we can remember that those days were there and it wasn't that long ago, we won't repeat them. If we forget where we come from, we're going to repeat it," said Forrest Sawyer, founder of the African American Historical Society.

Sawyer and Brooks were arrested on Black Easter along with four others, known as the "Newton Six." The men were jailed without due process for 45 days in the Newton County Jail on charges including inciting a riot and marching without a permit, Sawyer said.

Times have changed since then, he said.

"Black people in the city are represented on the City Council and in the county government and on the Board of Education, and the representation that we have on the state level is fair," he said.

But Sawyer said it's important to remember the struggle that created that change.

Sunday's event will include several short speeches, singing and prayers, along with first-hand accounts from participants from the Black Easter march.

The event will be broadcast live on WGFS 1430-AM and on the Internet at www.irieatl.com.

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