Children Celebrate Black History Month Through Story at Sheppard Memorial Library in Greenville, North Carolina

Zykevion Holley, 10, reads Lift Every Voice and Sing, the African American National Anthem during the Reading Hour on Wednesday.
©Juliette Cooke/The Daily Reflector

Books and artifacts helped city residents last week gain an appreciation of African-American history.

Children and parents from throughout Greenville gathered at Sheppard Memorial Library’s Carver Branch to celebrate Black History Month.

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Librarian Mildred Elliot read “The Youngest Marcher,” which tells the true story of civil rights activist Audrey Faye Hendricks, a 9-year-old black girl who was jailed in Birmingham in 1963 for speaking out against racism.

After reading to the children, Elliot encouraged them to take a stand for what is right and not to be afraid of speaking up against injustices.

“Sometimes we’re not going to get everything on a silver platter,” Elliot said. It’s not going to be just handed to us. Sometimes we have to fight for it. Sometimes we might have to get support from other people who might not live in our area to help us get where we need to be. Martin Luther King was willing to help anybody. He was willing to walk those roads and make the changes we have today.”

Mildred Council, a former Greenville councilwoman and Pitt County Board of Education member, also made a special appearance at the Wednesday event.

Wearing traditional African garb, Council displayed some African artifacts for children to learn about and appreciate.

“I decided since I knew the beautiful boys and girls of my community were coming to Carver Library that I would just take some little tidbits of my display and bring to share with you,” Council told the children.  “I have been collecting African-American history for 39 years. My oldest son is 38 so when I was pregnant with him, I knew right then that I wanted him to be knowledgable about our history, to be proud of it, to learn about as much as he could about our history and learn and read and all of that.”

Guests at the event also recited and sang The black national anthem, written in 1900 and entitled “Lift Every Voice and Sing”

“That anthem itself speaks to the struggles and the trials and tribulations and the history of racial segregation and oppression and subjugation of black folks for many, many decades,”  said Keith Cooper, president of the Benevolence Corp and the driving force behind the regular Three Rs gatherings at Carver Library.

The Benevolence Corp is a nonprofit founded in 2003. The Three Rs after school program brings in community leaders to the library to address youth, read stories to them and share pizza, hot dogs, chips and drinks.

After reading and singing the anthem, children were given copies to take home.

“The anthem in itself is a source of inspiration and motivation and pride for who we are, who our ancestors were and how they were able to withstand the problems and the prejudices and the systematic institutionalized racism of the day so that we can learn lessons from those things,” Cooper said.

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SOURCE: The Reflector, by Tyler Stocks

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