Thursday, March 6, 2014
There were oratorical presentations from students and the Lowcountry unveiling of the 2014 Black Heritage Stamp honoring Shirley Chisholm.
That’s what happened on Feb. 24 as the Goose Creek NAACP branch and the U.S. Postal Service gathered to celebrate Black History Month at the Berkeley Electric Cooperative in Goose Creek.
Claflin University educator and civil rights activist Dr. Millicent Brown was the mistress of ceremony.
In 1963 Dr. Brown was the primary plaintiff in a NAACP-sponsored lawsuit (Millicent Brown, et al vs. Charleston County School District 20). The winning of this lawsuit led to the de-segregation of public schools in South Carolina.
The program opened with a prayer from Goose Creek resident and Morris Street Baptist Church pastor the Rev. Leonard Griffin. Following the prayer Boy Scout Troop 469 posted the colors and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Goose Creek NAACP VPs James Dukes and Willie Brooks gave a welcome along with Goose Creek Mayor Michael Heitzler.
Heitzler previously signed a proclamation encouraging residents to support and participate in Black History Month events.
Dr. Nathalina Tolbert led the singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Students received standing ovations with their oral presentations.
They urged affirmative action and social justice in the spirit of Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to Congress.
“It is always great to see our young people shine,” Berkeley County School District Deputy Superintendent Archie Franchini said of the student presentations.
Student orators ranged from sixth graders to a college senior. Their presentations and were poignant and relevant.
College of Charleston Sophomores Isabel Raisbeck and Morgan Jackson presentation was on classism.
Freshman Julian Harrell’s poetic rap displayed energetic talent, intuitiveness, and creativity.
College of Charleston Senior Arvaughnna Postema and Jada Orr, an eighth grader at Charleston School of the Arts, gave impressive orations.
U.S. Postal Service Charleston Business Mail Entry Unit Supervisor Lorna G. Coakley also made remarks. Postmaster William Davie and employees from Summerville sold stamps with a special pictorial postmark made for the occasion.
The key person responsible for the Shirley Chisholm Black Heritage Stamp is U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). Obtaining the stamp was an uphill battle.
Lee worked tirelessly to honor her friend, Shirley Chisholm. Chisholm was elected to Congress in 1968 and ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972. Chisholm died in 2005.
Lee enlisted Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s help in getting a portrait of Chisholm commissioned and hung in the Capitol. During Women’s History Month in 2001, Lee authored a resolution honoring Chisholm. It passed 415-0.
Millicent Brown, Sharon M. Rogers and Pam Anthony unveiled the stamp.
“The unveiling of the newest postage stamp honoring the deceased dynamic and powerful Shirley Chisholm provided a great perspective of how Black Americans have made such an impact on American society,” Berkeley County teacher and Goose Creek NAACP member Barbara Bodison said. “Shirley Chisholm made such an impression on my life as a young high school student that I volunteered to work on her Presidential campaign in the 1970s.
“She was the first black female presidential candidate and she was ‘unbossed’ and inspiring. The postage stamp is a wonderful tribute to one of the greatest leaders of the twentieth century.”
College of Charleston Community Outreach Coordinator Leroy Lewis Jr. said the program was awesome and provided a powerful glimpse into the amazing youth leadership nurtured by the local community.
The array of youth presenters excited, educated and inspired an accepting audience of community members.
Upper Berkeley County NAACP President The Rev. Julius Barnes and Goose Creek City Councilmember John McCants attended.
NAACP Life Member and Chairman of this year’s Black History program John Matthews pointed out that McCants was the first African American elected to the City of Goose Creek Council.
“The U.S. Postal Service and the NAACP honor and unveiling of the Shirley Chisholm stamp was ground zero living history that empowered all attendees and caused the room to swell with pride in honoring an American trailblazer,” Lewis said. “I hope that you will repeat and expand this kind of empowerment program that provides individual and community resilience.”
“Black History Month celebrations connect us all and offer such a wonderful occasion and opportunity to gain a fuller perspective of the contribution of Black Americans,” Barbara Bodison. “Our youth of the Tri-county Charleston area did an amazing job at the Goose Creek NAACP Black History Program, telling us about our history, helping us to believe in the present and pushing us to keep the faith.”