Continuing education main theme during black history tribute

February 05, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE |
  • The Education Reform: Shaping Our future Black History Tribute Program was held on Sunday afternoon at the Review & Herald. Minister Robert Petties spoke about the importance of education at the program held by the Contemporary School of the Arts & Gallery Inc (CSAGI).
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

Continuing to learn, no matter your age, wisely selecting role models and seizing opportunities were among the advice Tri-State area leaders shared at a black history tribute Sunday afternoon.

“But education is expanding your vision beyond what you know today to be true. We would still be stuck in 1964 if there weren’t folk, without schooling, without what we consider now formal education, who didn’t step up and take the challenge to understand a little more today than they understood yesterday and pass that on to the next generation,” jazz singer Kerensa Gray told the audience at the Review and Herald Publishing Association’s auditorium south of Hagerstown.

“Education Reform: Shaping Our Future” was the theme of the black history tribute, which was hosted by the Contemporary School of the Arts & Gallery.

Approximately 40 people attended the tribute, which started 45 minutes late.

Some speakers specifically cited historical moments like the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 that ended legal segregation in public schools, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that forbade discrimination on the basis of sex and race in hiring, promoting and firing.

But the main theme was continuing education.

Thomas C. Segar, Shepherd University’s vice president for student affairs, told youngsters in the audience to “find the spaces in your life where you can be authentic and I guarantee it will impact your academic achievement. It will impact your capacity to show up every day, to go through the classes you don’t want to go through.”

Robert Petties, minister at Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Hagerstown, recalled his youth when all young people ever heard about, outside of scripture, was the importance of education.

“My generation was drilled about education. Drilled. I mean like a drill sergeant in the military,” Petties said.

With education comes opportunities, which can lead to a better life, Petties said.

Those who encouraged him and others to get an education were elders who wanted them to take advantage of the opportunities they didn’t have, Petties said.

Yvonne Jenkins, a pharmaceutical sales representative from Martinsburg, W.Va., recalled former NBA star Charles Barkley taking heat years ago when he said professional athletes should not be role models.

Jenkins said Barkley got it right.

If she’s had a bad day, she calls her mom, sister, teacher or pastor, Jenkins said. Those are her role models, she said.

Sunday’s tribute included musical performances by Matthew Murray, 16, of Hagerstown, who sang “I am Changing” and Gray, who sang “At Last” in honor of Etta James, who died last month, and an original song, “So In Love.”

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