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Two Black History Month events planned for weekend

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- February is Black History Month and two significant events are planned for Newton County this weekend which are free and open to the public.

The Newton County NAACP Youth Chapter is hosting its annual Black History Program Saturday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Cousins Middle School.

According to Youth Advisor Kathleen Perry, the program will feature more than 70 photos of black Newton Countians, both living and dead, who have contributed to the culture of the community.

"We're trying to let these young people know we have some famous people in Newton County," Perry said, adding that many of the photos are of individuals who were the first of their race to break into various professions.

Also, black business leaders will have exhibit booths at the school to demonstrate and answer questions about their businesses.

Keynote speaker for the event is Daniel Blackman of Atlanta who is an environmental consultant specializing in public and intergovernmental affairs. According to his biographical information, he has established a foundation to address intergeneration and cultural gaps that exist within the environmental justice movement.

He has been appointed by the National Wildlife Federation to serve on a Climate Policy Commission co-sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus to address environmental injustices in minority communities throughout America.

Among his many accomplishments, he has served as a business consultant for leaders in the entertainment world including Walt Disney World, Radio One, J Records, Bad Boy Entertainment and others. He was the youngest board member in the history of the Atlanta Business League; has served as guest speaker at the Congressional Black Caucus and several civil rights conferences; and is recognized as one of America's "Under 40" rising environmental voices.

He said one of his most coveted appointments is his service as a board member of the Georgia Conservancy's Generation Green Board.

He is an alumnus of Clark Atlanta University and he and his wife Jeanelle are the parents of two children.

Members of the NAACP Youth Chapter will participate in program which will be emceed by Newton High School senior Brandy Clark and will include a recitation by 11-year-old O'Neil Hill of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech; a spiritual dance by Shaquill Shepherd; a prayer by JaShawn Wilkes; Scripture reading by the Rev. Giovonta Logan; and an interpretive dance called, "Ain't I a Woman" by Amber Hill. Other participants will be India King and Verquita Hill.

On Sunday, a national scholarly conference titled, "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies," will hold its concluding session at Oxford College. Sponsors for the event are the African American Historical Association of Newton County, the Oxford Historical Shrine Society and Emory University's Transforming Community Project.

The concluding event, "Remembrance in Slavery's Aftermath: A Day of Commemoration, Reflection and Celebration" will begin at 11 a.m. with a service of worship and remembrance at Grace United Methodist Church at 3145 Washington St. with Bishop Mike Watson of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church preaching.

In the afternoon at 2:30 in Oxford's Old Church a "talking circle" event titled "Slavery and Jim Crow at Emory and in Newton County," will take place. Members of the Emory community and Newton County residents, including descendants of both slave owners and the enslaved, will reflect on slavery's legacy. This will be followed by a wreath-laying ceremony in the historic African-American section of the Oxford City Cemetery.

The public is encouraged to participate in these events.