Author: Joel Spears / Managing Editor Source: The Rogersville Review
ROGERSVILLE — February is Black History Month and to celebrate the contributions of Hawkins County’s African American community, the Board of Directors at Price Public Community Center and the Swift Museum has organized a month-long schedule of events and exhibits, free to the public.
The celebration will begin next Sat., Feb. 9 with a kickoff at the community center, located at 203 Spring St. in Rogersville, from noon until 2 p.m. Museum tours will be offered, along with free hot dogs and door prizes.
A special presentation, sponsored by AT&T, has also been planned at 12:15 p.m.
Area legislators have been invited and are encouraged to attend.
“We want everyone to visit, feel at home, view the museum, and enjoy the presentation,” Museum Director Stella Gudger said. “It’s going to be a great way to kick off Black History Month where everyone in Hawkins County can have a good time and become involved in the community.”
Following the kickoff, on Sun., Feb. 10, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. a special exhibit will display paintings by one of the county’s late African American leaders, Ella Jo Bradley.
A retired educator, author of children's books and an artist, Bradley served as co-chair of the Hawkins County School Board for many years and was instrumental in preservation efforts of many remaining sites of Swift Memorial College for African Americans, now home to the Hawkins County School System.
“We wanted to bring an art exhibit here to the community center that was created by someone local for the community to enjoy,” Gudger said. “You don’t have to be famous or a celebrity to have made a contribution to your community and your nation. Ella Jo was an educator, an artist and an author, and instrumental in getting St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church put on the National Historic Register. She contributed a lot to the community and we felt like we should feature her.”
Gudger said the Bradley family will also attend for a meet and greet.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity to recognize local people,” Gudger said, “but this is also our first opportunity to host an exhibit here in addition to our museum. We hope to do more and more of these types of things in the future.”
There is no charge for admission to the exhibition.
The following week, Sat., Feb. 16, a private tour of the center and museum will take place for students of the New Vision Youth program in Kingsport. While this will be the group’s second year in attendance, Gudger said it will be the first for them to see the renovated museum project which was completed last year following their visit.
“It’s really going to be wonderful experience for them to come back and see the new museum,” Gudger said. “While this event will be closed to the public, it’s important to take note that we’re reaching out to young people throughout the region to make a positive impact.”
To end Black History Month festivities, on Thurs., Feb. 21, from6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., Dr. Thomas R. Peake, a King College history professor and Norton, Va. native, will lecture on the history and current status of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Refreshments will be served for this special engagement and admission is free. “We’re in a position now where we can better promote these types of programs and believe Black History Month is a great time to bring some of them home: bring exhibits in, recognize a few people, and get people in to see the museum,” Gudger added. “There are a lot of people who haven’t been here yet and we want them to know they are welcome. The more exposure we have, and programs we can bring, it will benefit the community as a whole.” For more information about the upcoming events, or Swift Museum, call (423) 921-3888.
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