‘Building Our Future from the Past’
MLK Committee Hosts Black History Program
McKENZIE (February 11) — Scores gathered at historic Webb High School Saturday for a program that honored African- Americans who carved a path for the future as well as the youth who represent that future.
The event, organized by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Committee in observance of Black History Month, was titled, “Building Our Future from the Past.” Master of ceremonies was Carolyn Cozart, introduced by Gina Atkins following a welcome by Cedric Edmonson.
All those gathered joined in singing, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” then greetings were delivered by Carroll County Mayor Kenny McBride and McKenzie Mayor Jill Holland. An invocation was delivered Minister Tylan Johnson.
The Clark Street Mass Choir performed a pair of hymns, and members of the Community Praise Team performed two dances. Ms. Cozart recited a self-penned poem, “Freedom.” Sandra Jordan sang, “Soon I Will be Done.”
The keynote speaker, Jackson Police Officer Patrick Cozart, son of Carolyn, was introduced by his wife, Whitney.
Officer Cozart, a Huntingdon native, spoke about the first black officers in the Jackson Police Department and some of the hurdles that they had to overcome while breaking the color barrier. He noted that acceptance was slow among both the white and black communities, and that public facilities were still segregated at that time (the early 1960's.) Cozart said that, “these men's dedication paved the way for black officers.”
Cozart began his career in Brownsville after graduating from the academy in 2009. After four years he transferred to Jackson, which he called “the greatest opportunity of my life.” He is now a member of Blue Impact Team, the Crisis Intervention Team and DARE, and is a Field Training Officer and a hostage negotiator.
He told the many youth present, “Now I feel that I'm paving the way for some of you in this building,” and went on to say that they would pave the way for the next generation. He emphasized to the youth the importance of professionalism, respect and consistency. He issued the challenge for them to lead by example, and closed with a quote from Herman Cain: “Success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success.”
After a standing ovation for Officer Cozart, Natalie Porter and Rose Glenn recognized 81 African- American honor students from Carroll County, many of whom were present.
Mavis Curtis offered thanks to those involved with the program and those who attended, and Reverend Eugene Jones closed the event with a Benediction.
Ushers for the event were James Hunt, Clarence Norman, and Neal Williamson.
Members of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Committee are Gina Atkins, Cedric Edmonson, Ruby Hillsman, Lina B. McClerkin, Clarence Norman, Melinda Falls-Quisenberry, Kim Bell Webb, Neal Williamson, Natalie Porter and Mavis Curtis.
Photos by Brad Sam/The McKenzie Banner