History unveiled at 300th salute

Published 8:55 pm Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Beaufort County turns 300 and Saturday’s celebration in downtown Washington’s Festival Park promises to be a spectacular occasion. As afternoon flows into evening, the county’s long past will be marked with live beach music, a performance by the North Carolina Symphony and fireworks.
But it is earlier in Saturday’s scheduled events that history will really take the stage — a history forgotten by some, and never known by most. Through a series of monologues by representatives from Aurora, Belhaven, Blounts Creek and more, the history of African-American people in Beaufort County will be told.
“I think it’s going to be a very interesting presentation,” said Betty Moore, an organizer for the event. “People don’t know anything at all about what’s happened in the black community in the past 300 years.”
These bits of oral history will come in 15-minute increments between other acts — flashes of Beaufort County black history in between a tribute by a local praise dance team, and performances by Voices of Praise gospel choir and Kinston poet and author Felicia “The Inkstress” Albritton.
“It’s past stories about what has happened,“ said James Smallwood, also an organizer. “To highlight the black community in ways history doesn’t reflect the black community’s history.”
Moore said both blacks and whites in the community are largely unaware of the impact of African-Americans in Beaufort County, on the economy, in agriculture, in the homes and families of past employers, but Saturday’s presentations will be an opportunity to change that.
Along those lines, the Boys & Girls Club of Beaufort County and 21st Century Community Learning Center will present a mural to honor the “pathfinders” of the past — those who had a hand or foot in the history of Beaufort County, said Moore.
“I think it’s time to give them recognition,” Moore said.
The events begin at noon Saturday.
“We’re looking for a great turnout,” Smallwood said. “It’s going to be a beautiful day.”