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Carroll County celebrates Black History Month

Black History Month offers an opportunity to recognize the contributions African-Americans have made to American society. The observance began in 1926 as Negro History Week, created by Carter G. Woodson, a noted African-American historian, scholar, educator and publisher. In 1976, it became a month-long celebration. February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

Several local events have already celebrated Black History Month in Carroll County, but here are a couple of upcoming programs to consider.

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African-American read-in

On Thursday, Feb. 26, an African-American read-in at the Carroll Arts Center will feature area high school students reading the works of influential African Americans from 6 to 8 p.m.

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The event was organized by Carroll County Public Schools personell Janetta Jayman, supervisor of English and World Languages, and Kendra Hart, supervisor of Elementary and Gifted and Talented K-12.

"Our students are eager to participate in this new and unique opportunity," Hart said.

According to Jayman, the National Council of Teachers of English sponsor these events in many locations, both nationally and internationally.

"We decided we wanted it to be a community event so we partnered with the Carroll County chapter of NAACP and the Carroll County Public Library," Jayman said.

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Jayman said a reception with light refreshments will be held from 6 to 6:30 p.m., with an ensemble from the Westminster High School Jazz Band performing under the direction of Brian Frazier. At 6:30 p.m. Stephen Guthrie, superintendent of CCPS, will share opening comments in the stage area. Throughout the rest of the evening, high school English students will read aloud from books and poetry written by African-American writers.

"We are excited for many of our gifted high school students to showcase the talents of African-American authors," said Hart.

Book displays created by CCPS media specialists and staff from the Carroll County Public Library will showcase books written by African-American writers. Gift cards from local bookstores as well as books donated by Random House will be given as door prizes.

"This is important because not only does it promote literacy, but it also promotes the diversity of American literature," Jayman said. "It's also important because it is a celebration for Black History Month and we are honoring the significant contributions that African- American authors have given to our English content."

John Lewis, vice president of Carroll County chapter of the NAACP, will deliver closing comments.

This event is free and open to the public. The Carroll County Arts Center is at 91 W. Main St. in Westminster.

For more information about the read-in event, contact Janetta Jayman at 410-751-3057 or jjjayma@carrollk12.org, or Kendra Hart at 410-386-1660 or kyhart@carrollk12.org.

The Carroll County History Project

In honor of Black History Month, the Carroll County History Project is presenting "African American Trailblazers of Carroll County," a series running on Channel 19 throughout February.

"The Community Media Center videotaped over 20 interviews with African Americans in Carroll County," said Megan Ratti is history project coordinator at the Community Media Center in Westminster. "They are from fields like education, sports, politics and civil rights. It is so important to honor what they have done and how they paved the way for success in Carroll County."

Jean Lewis, president of the Carroll County chapter of the NAACP, said the series was her husband John's idea.

"We are relegated to one month, but we have had a great impact on history," Jean Lewis said. "We wanted to hold up local people to show what African Americans have done to help in this county. A lot of people have remained in the shadows and their history is not known. That is why we wanted to do this."

Lewis said during her research she found six people in Carroll County who walked in the March on Washington in 1963.

"Two of them were white individuals," she said. "These are the things we want to bring to the forefront."

According to Lewis, one of the interviews in the series is with Theresa Hill Franklin, who grew up in Taneytown.

"That memorial park in Taneytown — her family was responsible for building it," Lewis said. "They worked in the evenings and on weekends. Another interesting interview is with Theresa Norris of Sykesville, the first African American to be elected as part of the town council. And she was a female."

Ratti said those who don't have Comcast can watch the documentary series online from the Community Media Center's website.

"We live stream Channel 19 on http://www.CarrollMediaCenter.org," she said. "This was an initiative for Black History Month as part of our Carroll History Project, so it will also be in our online oral archive, with over 500 other local interviews focusing on the history of Carroll County. Interviews can viewed on the History Project website at http://www.CarrollHistory.org."

For more information, call the community media center at 410-386-4415 or email history@carrollmediacenter.org.

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