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Wilson marks Black History Month

Posted on February 1, 2021

Wide Awake Wilson
Maurice Barnes cut vines that had covered tombstones he uncovered just minutes before in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Wilson in mid-January. Lisa Henderson will discuss this cemetery and others during her Zoom program, "Gone But Not Forgotten: The History of Wilson's African-American Cemeteries," on Feb. 8, presented by the Wilson County Public Library.

Janelle Clevinger | For Wide Awake Wilson

Maurice Barnes cut vines that had covered tombstones he uncovered just minutes before in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Wilson in mid-January. Lisa Henderson will discuss this cemetery and others during her Zoom program, "Gone But Not Forgotten: The History of Wilson's African-American Cemeteries," on Feb. 8, presented by the Wilson County Public Library.

Wilson residents are celebrating Black History Month in February, despite the absence of large crowd events because of the pandemic.


OLIVER NESTUS FREEMAN ROUND HOUSE MUSEUM

The museum’s new virtual format was completed in time for Black History Month and can be viewed at www.theroundhousemuseum.com under the “Virtual Tour” tab on the menu at the top of the page.

“I am working to adapt the museum’s current exhibits, which were curated by local historian and genealogist Lisa Henderson, into a virtual format,” said Beth Nevarez with Nevarez Historical Consulting. “It will be broken into four main sections: an introduction to the area of East Wilson; the development of the African-American community; segregation and integration of education in Wilson; and the life and work of Oliver Nestus Freeman, the namesake of the museum.”

The newest exhibit, “Say Their Names,” was also curated by Henderson and previously featured at Wilson’s Imagination Station Science and History Museum. The exhibit includes documents, photographs and artifacts that shed light on the history of enslaved citizens in Wilson County and will become part of the Round House museum’s permanent collection. Images from that show are featured on the cover page.

“I don’t even have words for it (becoming a permanent exhibit)” Henderson said. “It’s an amazing opportunity, and I really hope that when this pandemic ends — and I hope that’s soon — those people who weren’t able to come out to Imagination Station will get an opportunity to come and see it. It’s absolutely an exhibit that is for everyone. There’s something new that everyone can learn about our community’s history.”

The museum’s new virtual format was completed in time for Black History Month and can be viewed at www.theroundhousemuseum.com under the “Virtual Tour” tab on the menu at the top of the page. The museum is located at 1202 E. Nash St.

The museum is open to visitors Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and closed on Sundays and Mondays. The number of visitors inside each building is limited in accordance with social distancing guidelines.


SALLIE B. HOWARD SCHOOL

Although the Sallie B. Howard School of Arts and Science will be unable to hold an in-person event celebrating Black History Month, several students will have their work featured on the school’s social media platforms.

Some of the school’s theater students will recite the “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech by Sojourner Truth. A dance student will perform a solo to Billie Holliday’s “Strange Fruit,” and band students will perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

“For Black History Month, our middle school art students are studying Jean-Michel Basquiat, and our high school art majors are learning about Lois Mailou Jones,” said Carrie Nobels, visual art teacher at Sallie B. Howard. “Both of these artists took non-traditional approaches to creating art with a message.”

Nobles observed that Basquiat uses crowns on individuals who normally aren’t considered royalty, so his work empowers marginalized people. “One of our goals in the SBH Visual Art Department is to teach students how to dissect and analyze art” Nobels said.

“Like Basquiat, our students will use symbols in their artwork to express their feelings about current events.”

On the cover of this publication is a work by Nobels’ art student Helena Victoria Jenks depicting Breonna Taylor.

“Lois Mailou Jones’ work allows our high school students to learn how to create self-portraits in non-traditional ways,” continued Nobels.

“When you look at her work, you see a strong African influence. But she also studied in Paris where she learned about traditional African masks and different styles of painting. She poured a lot of her life experiences into her work through symbols and honors her heritage and influences in a very unique way.”

Sallie B. Howard’s artistic recognition of Black History Month can be found on the school’s Facebook, Instagram and YouTube platforms.


WILSON COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY

All library programs are accessible through its Facebook page and YouTube channel unless otherwise noted. More information can be found a www.wilsoncountypubliclibrary.org.

• February’s programs include STEAM activities for ages 5 and up on Tuesdays in February. Activity packets will be available for pickup at the circulation desk on the Monday before each program while supplies last. Spotlighted during the STEAM programs will be Mae Jemison, physician, engineer and NASA astronaut; St. Elmo Brady, chemist and educator; Patricia Era Bath, ophthalmologist; and Archie Alexander, engineer.

• Wednesday storytimes this month for ages birth to 10 will feature African-American authors and illustrators. In honor of Black History Month, youth ages 12-19 are invited to illustrate the words of a famous African-American author of their choice by Feb. 25. Art can be created in any medium, including paint, crayon, pastel, papier mache or digital art. Submit work by email attachment to Kate Brittain at kbrittain@wilson-co.com. Posts will be featured on the WCPL Facebook page.

• Lisa Y Henderson, local genealogist and historian, will discuss the sacred African-American cemeteries serving Wilson starting before the Civil War and how you can help preserve them today on Feb. 8, 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. Join her for “Gone but Not Forgotten: The History of Wilson’s African-American Cemeteries” as she updates progress on the restoration of the Rountree, Odd Fellows and Vick cemeteries in Wilson. Register to obtain a Zoom link. For more information or to register, contact Tammy Medlin, local history and genealogy librarian at 252-237-5355 ext. 5029 or tmedlin@wilson-co.com.

• The Black Creek branch will learn about Alma Thomas in an art challenge for ages 6 to 10, on Feb. 23, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Grab-and-go kits can be picked up on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last.

• On Feb. 22 and 25, noon to 5 p.m., the Lucama branch will discover and uncover information relating to African-American history through fact sheets, puzzles, a 28-day activity sheet and a mini book creation. Kits can be picked up on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last.

• Learn about the first black female astronaut, Dr. Mae Jemison, with a rocket craft at the Crocker branch in Stantonsburg. Kits can be picked up on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. This event is Feb. 15 and 18, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.

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