02/23/09 — Black History program features student portrayals

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Black History program features student portrayals

By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 23, 2009 1:46 PM

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Jatianna Peterson, left, Xavier Tart and Vashon Hooper sing "My Country 'Tis of Thee" at Hamilton Funeral Chapel's Black History Month presentation Saturday. The program featured student portrayals of minority leaders who have contributed to American society. With one week left in Black History Month, there are a number of events still scheduled to observe, including Thursday and Friday events sponsored by the STOP the Funeral Initiative and a parade Saturday in Mount Olive, starting at 1 p.m. down Breazeale Avenue.

Students from the county's high schools spoke of and/or portrayed historic African-Americans Saturday afternoon during the second annual Black History Month program at Hamilton Funeral Chapel.

"It is always important during Black History Month to increase the awareness of those people who are minorities who have contributed to society and that is what we want to do," said Brad Atkinson, grandson of the business' founders, Levi Hamilton Sr. and Geneva Ross Hamilton.

"We want to encourage students to aspire to excellence in the academic arena," he said. "One of those ways they do that is through the presentations here. We offer scholarships of varying amount of money. We do this in memory of Levi Hamilton Sr. and Geneva B. Hamilton.

"Both of them strove for excellence in youth, especially in minority youths, but youth in general for reaching for that academic excellence because they (youths) represent the future."

That is even more important in light of today's changing face of politics and the world, he said.

"It is important to emphasis to youth the importance of a good pursuit of excellence," he said. "We always believe in giving to the community because we are the community. Without the community we don't exist.

"As long as I can remember my grandparents insisted on the importance of giving to the community. They were both very active during the Civil Rights era and they were both extremely active you name the community action.

Steven Pittman, an eighth-grader at E.E. Smith Middle School at Kenansville, recited President Barack Obama's "Yes We Can" speech.

The Dillard Academy Chorus performed and the colors were presented by the Eastern Wayne High School Air Force Jr. ROTC.