Warren Early College High School students learn about black history
Warren Early College High School welcomed guest speakers to present a Black History Month program on Feb. 24. The school is located on the Warren County Campus of Vance-Granville Community College and allows students to simultaneously complete both a high school diploma and the first two years of a four-year college degree.
After welcoming remarks from Principal Tracey Neal and Warren County Board of Education chair Barbara L. Brayboy, the first guest speaker was Pastor Eddie W. Lawrence of Greenwood Baptist Church in Warrenton. He talked about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and offered a dramatic reading of the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which King gave in Washington, D.C., in 1963.
“It’s always a privilege and an honor for me to share that address,” Lawrence said. “I was only nine years old when Dr. King was assassinated, but the impact of his life on my life and on the lives of others throughout our nation has been powerful and life-changing. At a time when our nation was in the midst of turmoil and many people were advocating violence, Dr. King maintained the principle of nonviolence. He taught us that love is what really conquers hate.” The pastor emphasized that students should not recall King as simply “a dreamer,” but also as “a doer.”
Lawrence informed students that Black History Month began as a weeklong observance established by historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926. “A week is too short, a month is too short, three months is too short to celebrate the life and legacy of people of color,” Lawrence said. “We have set aside this time to spend some time focusing on the contributions of African-Americans. The primary goal is to reflect on the rich heritage we have inherited.” He mentioned a few of the heroes from black history, such as educator Booker T. Washington, composer/musician Duke Ellington, Revolutionary War casualty Crispus Attucks, and Douglas Wilder, the first African American elected governor of a state. Lawrence asked students to “commit themselves to excellence” and to making a difference, emulating such luminaries of the past. He also emphasized the importance of education, recalling that Frederick Douglass once said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
The second guest speaker was state Sen. Angela Bryant, who represents Senate District 4 in the N.C. General Assembly. She recalled that, at age 11, she was one of the first five students to integrate the public schools in Rocky Mount. Bryant reminded students that young people have taken the lead in movements to promote change throughout the history of the country. She also lauded the Early College program. “The Early College movement is still young in North Carolina, and there is more to be done to expand it,” Bryant said. “As one of your elected officials whose responsibility it is to fund education in your state, it is important for me to hear from you, the students, about your experience. We are excited for you to have the opportunities you have here.”
Above: Pastor Eddie W. Lawrence speaks to Warren Early College High School students and others gathered for a program on black history. (VGCC photo)
Above: N.C. Sen. Angela Bryant speaks to Warren Early College High School students and others gathered for a program on black history. (VGCC photo)