Another year of celebrating black history

Published 6:18 pm Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Thursday marks the end of Black History Month, and my first, in Chambers County. I am simply in awe of the history and the county’s desire to preserve it.

West Point Councilwoman Sandra Thornton held her annual Black History Month event on Tuesday night in the West Point Gym. It’s an event that she’s passionate about, and one that I was invited to attend during last summer shortly after I started working at The Valley Times-News.

I also discovered the “Black History in Chambers County, Alabama” page on Facebook through Narfunda Ross during the month. The page posted a different local trailblazer on a regular basis throughout February, and I learned about longtime coach James Franklin, who was the first black person to serve on the Lanett School Board. By walking around downtown LaFayette before a basketball game, I spotted the Joe Louis statue and learned more about his upbringing in the area. I also learned about how one of our frequent guest columnists, Pearlie Gibson, witnessed many of the boycotts and protests in Montgomery during the Civil Rights movement.

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This past Black History Month, I got to report on some cool things that happened around the community. Da Grub Spot, a black-owned business, officially reopened Newt’s, another black-owned business, after buying the building recently. The move was important for not only the black community building wealth, but for the Greater Valley Area as a whole. Power comes from wealth, and the more money that circulates within the community, the more wealthy it becomes. The idea of “buying back the block” as Da Grub Spot owners phrased it, is so important because one of the main keys to improving an area is bringing more money into a concentrated area. Money spent at a business where the owner lives in the Valley comes directly back to the community, as opposed to spending money at a chain establishment, where the ownership is based elsewhere.

I also had the opportunity to interview Tiaura Lyons, the sophomore forward who scored the first goal in Valley girls soccer history. The team’s head coach Travis Engram said that Lyons scores goals all the time in practice using both feet. Coming from a family of athletic genes with All-State running back older brothers C.J. and Malik, Tiaura started playing soccer last summer.

As the first black editor in the history of the Valley Times-News, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for black history to be celebrated.

There are so many obstacles and challenges that we face on a day-to-day basis. There are many negative connotations and stereotypes that may come to mind when you hear the phrase “black people.” Even today, we’re painted in the negative light of being criminals, dropouts, thugs.

We’re marginalized to dreaming of being an entertainer, an athlete, and if we don’t accomplish either then we’re a failure. We grow up thinking this way because that’s what we’re fed consuming media as young children. Black History Month reinforces to us all that those stereotypes just simply aren’t true.

We can be government officials, educators, police officers, business owners, investors, lawyers and doctors. We can even be an editor at a newspaper.