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African American Museum of History and Culture - Loray Mill

A Tribute to Vice President Kamala Harris by Dekota Grier McCullough

An African Proverb says, “If you want to go fast go alone, If you want to go far go together.”

Vice President Kamala Harris emerged from parents who, although perhaps had never heard this African Proverb, appear that the course of life and destiny exemplify that they were parents who decided to go far and to carry many with them. Having a father who was a Jamaican Ph.D. student and later college professor and a mother who was an Indian scientist who became a community activist, shaped Vice-president Harris into the person she would later become. She was taught to make a difference culturally. Her parents were members of a study group known as the Afro-American Association who helped build Black studies, introduce Kwanzaa, and establish the Black Panther Party at the University of California at Berkley. Later being raised by a single mother, she was inspired to dream big and approach challenges as an opportunity for advancement which allowed her to inspire many. As the result of her being so inspirational, Vice-president Harris's life was destined to be one to make a great impact on all those she encountered. She stated once, “I’m not trying to restructure society, I’m just trying to take care of the issues that wake people up in the middle of the night.” – Kamala Harris

Vice President Harris began her educational matriculation at a Historically Black College, Howard University, where she would embrace the Black experience of her family as only an HBCU could foster. While on campus, she learned the sisterhood bond and excelled academically which catapulted her political career. After her 1981 undergraduate degree in political science and economics, she returned to California and attended the University of California, Hastings College of Law. As a result, Vice President Harris broke many gender and racial barriers through her career as a prosecutor and groundbreaking attorney general in the state of California. In consideration of her educational choices, it was obvious that she would ultimately be one who would carry many with her on her journey into renowned greatness.

As I have pondered the course of destiny for one who was chosen before the foundation of the world, Vice President Harris has been profoundly inspirational and truly impactful. At this present time, I deem her as perhaps the most influential person on the planet.

She has proven, by her life and career moves, that she refused to go alone and fast. Rather through the challenges of being first in many positions of leadership and influence, many will be brought to new levels of opportunities because of her. What a great woman of firsts. Although she is not the first person of color to be a part of the leadership team of these United States, President Barak Obama holds that position, she is, however, the first woman. Mary the Mother of Jesus Christ was a Women of Influence and fulfilled her role well. Because Vice President Harris has shattered many ceilings, minorities, women of color, and those with previous dismayed futures have found a sense of pride and hope. Children from single-parent homes no longer have to live in the face of statistics saying they cannot be successful.

Women have learned that even if it appears to be, “A Man’s World”, they can have a “Seat at the table.” The Vice President’s accomplishments have given minorities Wings-to-Soar to new levels without excuses. Because she was the seed of parents who refused to go the journey fast and alone, she will no doubt be one who will lead many to risk the journey where they can be inspirational, impactful, and influential as well. In the words of Former President Obama, “Yes we Can!”

Let us all celebrate God’s gift in Vice President Kamala Harris.

Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement

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February is Black History Month

G. R. A. B. a Book Reading Program

Wednesday, Feb. 3rd, 10am

This is an online event.

Award-winning Author, Kelly Starling Lyons, Reader

The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity

Sunday, Feb. 7th, 2-2:30pm

This is an online event.

Join James Garvin and Dot Guthrie for an introduction to the 2021 Black History Theme and Black History Facts.

Celebrating a Birthday, History, Culture and Family: Remembering the late Congressman John Lewis

Sunday, Feb. 21st, 2-3pm

This is an online event.

Dr. Benjamin Hinton will read the late Congressman's book, Preaching to the Chickens.

Councilman Charles Odom will present the Black History Month Proclamation from the City of Gastonia.

Pastor Ricky Collins (Fairview City Church, Gastonia, NC) and Rev. Kenneth Falls (Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Valdese, NC), will participate.

A trombone solo by Mr. K'mari Spikes (a tribute to Trombone Shorty, a Coretta Scott King Book Award) will be rendered.

Award-winning author Ms. Tonya Bolden (writer of non-fiction books for young people).

Dr. Melissa Balknight, Associate Superintendent, Gaston County Schools, will share. Gaston County Schools will offer students the opportunity to take African American Studies at any high school this Fall (in person or virtual). She will share additional opportunities for family involvement for the remainder of the year.

All of this will be navigated by Mr. Torben Ross, Principal at Robinson Elementary School.

Bedtime Stories with Torben and Terronna

Tuesday, Feb. 23rd, 7-7:30pm

This is an online event.

Want to hear a great Bedtime Story? Put on your pj's and join Torben and Terronna for a great read.

Gastonia’s “Negro Hospital” in 1954

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A Gaston Gazette article, published on August 12, 1954, reported a significant change in the administrative personnel of the “Negro Hospital” in Gastonia. This change was announced by Frank Young, the chairman of the board of trustees. The two serving administrators, Mrs. Ellen Simpson and Mr. Howard Shrum, were being replaced by Miss Betty Faye Connor, the manager of the night nursing staff at Gaston Memorial Hospital.

Mrs. Simpson was invited to stay on as head nurse which she declined. She had begun her work at the hospital in 1938, being “loaned” for a month from Garrison General Hospital. Seeing a greater need for the services at the Negro hospital, she stayed on and served there for 16 years.

It was further reported that the board of trustees received criticism that “the Negroes do not have any “say” in the operation of the hospital”. In response, Mr. Young said that the trustees had recently appointed an advisory committee from the Negro population. He was quoted also as saying that the board had “consulted with members of their race relative to our plans for the future at the hospital. We believe we are embarked on a program which will give the Negro race additional and more efficient hospital services.”

The Rock Hill Friendship Nine

Mr. Willie McCloud was one of the Friendship Nine, a group of nine African American men who were arrested and jailed for staging a sit-in at a segregated lunch counter in Rock Hill, S.C. in 1961.

After the men spent the night in jail, they were convicted of trespassing and breach of the peace and sentenced to pay a $100 fine or serve 30 days hard labor at the York County Prison Farm. Previous participants of sit-ins in Rock Hill, in 1960 and 1961, had paid the fine, supported by Civil Rights organizations. All but one of the Friendship Nine students made the choice to serve the sentence instead of paying the fine. This was a first in the Civil Rights movement and it sparked the “jail no bail” strategy that was followed elsewhere. It eased the financial burden on the organizations paying the fines/bail and gained more attention from the public for the cause of civil rights.

In the years since his arrest and time spent serving his sentence, Mr. McCloud has been a civil rights leader in the Carolinas. He was interviewed frequently by WCNC’s Billie Jean Shaw regarding local and nationwide racial issues. He spoke to groups of adolescents about his sit- in experience.

In 2015 Judge John C. Hayes III overturned the convictions of the Friendship Nine and apologized to the surviving members who were present in his courtroom in Rock Hill. Eight of the men were students at Rock Hill’s Friendship Junior College.

Willie McCloud’s last interview in June of last year. He expressed dismay at what he had observed going on in our society in recent years. He said the current unrest in the country reminded him of what was happening in the ’60s and caused him to question the value of what he and other activists had accomplished in those years. Mr. McCloud passed away on 12/31/20. Four of the members of the Friendship Nine are presumed to be still living. They are John Gaines, W. T. Massey, David Williamson Jr., and Mack Workman.

Like Us On Facebook. We Plan to Travel Through Gaston County in February, While Making Some Interesting Stops Along the Way to Talk With Townspeople! First, let's take a peek into the museum.

A Virtual Tour and Art Donation Made to the Museum

Let's Play Ball! Let's Travel to Mount Holly! And, Let's Remember Ransom Hunter!

"Take me out to the ball game

Take me out with the crowd."

Those words are exciting in more ways than one when the name Honey Hunters is considered. The first freed slave to own land in Gaston County was Ransom Hunter! Starting this summer, young people will learn more about the former slave, and how he used a "Growth Mindset" to own land, sell land, donate land for churches, serve on the Education Board, and operate several businesses in Mt. Holly. And, the town of Mt. Holly, is on land once owned by Hunter.

Finding Your Roots: Ransom Hunter

Your Participation in a Virtual Run - Is a Win For the Museum - Here's What You Need to Know

Gaston Community Foundation is sponsoring a Virtual Run on April 17, 2021. We will qualify for matching funds when you sign up and make a pledge.

Let's run to WIN! A record-winning athelete - Jesse Owen.

If You Would Like to Donate to the Museum

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Online Donation - Go to our website and use the button "Donate."

Donate by Mail:

African American Museum of History and Culture - Loray Mill

Post Office Box 721

Gastonia, North Carolina 28053

Newsletter Team: Kathleen Blake, Karen Bringle, and Carolyn West Brown