UNION — A Black History Celebration held over the weekend honored both past and present African-American leaders in Union County.
The Antioch Outreach Foundation of the Antioch AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church, hosted a Black History Celebration themed “Connecting the Past to the Present” on Saturday at USC Union.
The Rev. Juanita Giles, coordinator for the foundation, said the purpose of the celebration was to recognize Union County’s own African-American leaders for their achievements and services within the community, as well as connect the younger generation by giving them a glimpse of what they can achieve.
“The vision for the awards came to me, and I went with it,” Giles said. “I thought, ‘Why can’t we recognize our own?’ We cannot know where we are going without knowing where we came from. We cannot forget.”
Saturday’s program honored the memories of local African-American leaders of the past such as Chester Ferguson, Paul Glenn, Dora Martin, and Janie Glymph Goree.
The program also recognized current African-American leaders from within Union County, who were present at the event. Leaders were recognized in the fields of government, business, education, medicine and community. Those recognized included Union Mayor Harold Thompson, Carlisle Mayor Mary Ferguson-Glenn, Modest Keenan Jr., Oscar Gist Sr., UCHS Principal Floyd Lyles Jr., the Rev. Malachi Rodgers, Mickey Dean Gist, Dr. Natashia Jeter, Dr. Erica Savage-Jeter, Ann Stevens and Carolyn Rutherford Harris.
“We want them to know we are proud of them and the progress they have made,” Giles said.
The program also included a powerful message entitled “The Ugly Truth” from the Rev. James W. Richard, a musical performance by The Warriors in the Spirit, and a recitation of Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise,” by Shamya Rice.
Giles said everyone involved was pleased with the first-ever celebration held by the Antioch Outreach Foundation, and she looks forward to continuing the event in years to come. Giles said next year’s celebration may include the recognition of members of the younger generation, some of which she has learned — and been inspired — since Saturday’s event.
Look for individual stories about each of Saturday’s honorees in February editions of The Union Daily Times, on www.uniondailytimes.com, and on The Union Daily Times’ Facebook page.
Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234.