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“The history of the black community in the County of Edgefield is an important and compelling story, yet few people are aware of what happened here over the last 200 years,” said Mr. Willie Bright, President of the Edgefield Community Center on Macedonia Street. Last year, Mr. Bright headed a series of meetings during the month of February which was enjoyed by a large number of attendees and which helped to shed light on black history in this area.
The series will be held again this year, beginning at 10:00 am each Saturday in February. Following each meeting good old fashioned African American food favorites will be served. Door prizes will be awarded. The series is free to the public and all are invited.
Saturday 2nd February, 10:00 am: What Came After Freedom Came? Elvin B. Thompson of Augusta, Georgia, will tell the story of how newly freed African Americans struggled against all odds to advance themselves through education. He will focus on how black educators and their students met the strife-filled years of Reconstruction and Jim Crow. Reverend Thompson served for 20 years in the U. S. Army and is currently the senior pastor at Riverside Christian Worship Center in Augusta. In 2005, he was nominated for the NAACP Roy L. Wilkins Award for embodying the spirit of equality and human rights.
Saturday 9th February, 10:00 am: The Legacy of Alexander Bettis . Reverend George Brightharp of Edgefield will speak on how former slave Reverend Alexander Bettis, along with other dynamic figures in Edgefield County, created Bettis Academy, the widely praised school for African Americans. He will discuss how its teachers affected the lives of countless people in the area. Reverend Brightharp, well known minister and speaker, is the senior pastor at Mt. Caanan Baptist Church, which is located near where Bettis Academy once stood.
Saturday 16th February, 10:00 am: Voting and Not Voting in Edgefield. Tricia Price Glenn, Edgefield County Archivist, will present a Power Point program describing the history of the African American vote in the county. She will discuss the early days of freedom, when the former slaves first obtained the right to vote, as well as the end of Reconstruction when the opportunity to vote was effectively denied to them. Seventy-five years would go by before black citizens of Edgefield could vote again.
Saturday 23th February, 10:00 am: Growing Up in Edgefield. Mr. Willie Bright, series coordinator, will invite members of the audience, young and old, to come forward and talk about their experiences growing up in Edgefield County. Several surprise participants have already offered to take part. Whether the memories are happy, funny, bitter, or sad, they will be rich in substance—valuable pieces of our communal history!