Black History Month can be a time to reflect on both the struggles of the past and progress that has been made, while also looking toward the future — which will be highlighted Thursday in Mount Airy.
An event billed as a black history celebration is scheduled for 2 p.m. that day in the L.H. Jones Auditorium at 215 Jones School Road.
The celebration, which is free and open to the public, will include a panel discussion, live musical entertainment, the Rev. Daryl Beamer as special speaker, historical exhibits and light refreshments.
It involves a collaboration between the Surry County Senior Center based at the Jones School Road site and the local branch of the National Association of University Women. The latter is a relatively new group that is involved in planning a Black History Month celebration for the second year in a row.
Also co-sponsoring the program is the J.J. Jones Alumni Association.
The theme of Thursday’s event is “Sound the Trumpet: Great Struggles, Great Strides.” It is being tied to the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.
Thursday’s program will explore the African-American experience in the years since that tragedy, according to Cheryl “Yellow Fawn” Scott of the National Association of University Women, an organizer for the event.
“The bitterness is a part of our past in America and it just is what it is,” Scott said.
Yet through the conflicts of that past, many strides have been made that are worthy of celebration, Scott added Monday, which also recognizes the fact additional progress is needed in race relations and equality.
“We’re focusing on our city and community,” she said of Thursday’s event. “We’ve invited our city and county leaders to come.”
“One of the important things is what the vision is for 50 years from now,” Scott continued.
That will be among the topics explored during Thursday’s panel discussion. John Jessup will moderate that segment, with the panel members to include Shelby King, Edward McDaniels and Katie Hatcher.
“The panel is going to look at where we were in 1968 and what things have changed between then and now and what things remain to be done going forward — and what is that vision?” Scott said.
The remarks by the Rev. Beamer, the special speaker Thursday, will represent an attempt to put everything into proper perspective with the civil rights struggle and end the program on a high note. The theme of his talk is “Where There is Life, There is Hope.”
“You always want to end with hope,” Scott said, because along with the continuing struggles involving educational opportunities, jobs and other issues of the African-American community, “things also are moving forward.”
McDaniels and Dr. Evelyn Thompson, who heads the African-American Historical and Genealogical Society of Surry County, are scheduled to have historical exhibits on display Thursday.
The program’s musical component will be highlighted by hymns, including a performance by Marie Nicholson and songs in which the audience can participate.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.