By Jason A. Smith
This year's celebration of Black History Month will feature a first for Henry County, as State Sen. Gail Davenport will host an event Friday, at the Henry County Performing Arts Center in McDonough.
The program, titled "African-American Salute: Building on our Past, Moving Toward the Future," will include dance, singing and oratorical presentations by students in Henry and Clayton counties.
Davenport, chairperson and founder of the Clayton County Black History Center, said she is "excited" about bringing the event, which has historically been held in Clayton, to the community in Henry.
"We feel that black history is 365 days a year," said Davenport, who represents portions of both Henry and Clayton. "I just thought it would be important to have a community-wide program in Henry. The schools and churches in the county have been really supportive, and that's a good sign."
She said the involvement of local students in the program is important, as it will help those students develop self-confidence through their performances, while educating them about black history.
The Rev. Daniel Edwards, president of the Henry County NAACP, commended Davenport for putting the program together, and said he hopes people will learn from it. He said the program is "much needed" in Henry.
"There's still so much untold and unknown black history, even in Henry County," he said. "A lot of people who made black history in Henry County are still living."
He said many students in America's schools are unaware of the struggles of pioneers in black history, and that "there's African-American history that's not in the history books." He said programs such as those being organized by Davenport are valuable tools in the education process.
"When you mention Black Wall Street, or Rosewood, and learn the history of those two cities, then you understand more clearly the importance of black history," he explained.
Davenport said she anticipates a "good turnout" for Friday's event, which is free and open to the public. The program will begin at 7:30 p.m.