EDITORIAL: Heritage Council honors Black History

  • Thursday, March 6, 2014

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The Heritage Council of North Augusta just wrapped up an exceptional series for Black History Month.

The organization hosted four events, one every Tuesday, which highlighted different individuals, families and groups in the CSRA and beyond.

The series, which was the longest the Heritage Council has ever done, was an asset to the community and a great chance to learn about the history of the area.

The first event, a panel discussion on the life of the Rev. George Liele, America’s first black ordained minister and missionary, brought a team of experts, Johnny E.H. McDonald, the director of tourism of First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Ga., which Liele founded’ Milledge Murray, co-author of George Liele’s Life and Legacy and vice president of the Heritage Council; and Carlisle Driggers, co-author with Murray, to speak on a true American hero. Liele was born into slavery and became a missionary in Jamaica, converting some 500 Africans to Christianity.

Other topics covered by the Heritage Council included the story of the slave ship Wanderer, which was the last ship to bring slaves into America. Christi Koelker, a maker of historical documentaries, and April Hynes, a researcher of the Wanderer, spoke on the significance of the ship and the descendants of the people on the ship, many who live in the CSRA.

The Council also had a screening of “Discovering Dave: Spirit Captured in Clay”, a movie on a slave potter who lived in Edgefield. Dave made thousands of pots in the 1800s, some of which he signed, and also wrote poetry.

The final installment of the Heritage Council’s Black History Month series included a presentation on four families in the Augusta area by Elizabeth Laney of Redcliffe Plantation and the Lucy Craft Laney Museum’s Corey Rodgers. The pair spoke on the Hornsby, Wigfall, Carter and Johnson families. Their presentation focused on how these families rose to become prominent in business, medicine, dentistry and politics in the early 20th century.

The Heritage Council, led by Brenda Baratto, should be commended for this series. They were able to bring experts into the area to present a lengthy series on prominent figures in local history. The series was able to offer a glimpse into our history, which needs to be celebrated. Thank you, Heritage Council, for your work in Black History Month.

Aiken Standard

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