Celebrating Black History

Published 1:22 pm Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Sydney Trent, longtime Washington Post editor and journalist, gave a moving tribute to Barbara Rose Johns and Dr. Martin Luther King during an address recently at Longwood University to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King.

Trent spoke about her family’s ties to nearby Prince Edward County, being the goddaughter of Barbara. She spoke about the impact her family has had through generations, of Barbara’s courageous actions during the student-led walkout of Robert Russa Moton High School in 1951 to address educational inequality and the school’s dilapidated conditions compared with the all-white high school.

Trent spoke about the perspectives held by Barbara, by Barbara’s uncle Vernon Jones, and by King, that allowed them to take on the courageous task of dismantling racism.

It’s a task, Trent said, that is upon all of us to take on today.

Trent’s story of her family’s fight in the face of systemic injustice is one that reflects stories of numerous families in Lunenburg who have made strides in civil rights.

Trent spoke about mountaintop imagination, the ability to see the big picture in history, morality, and our role in bringing about justice. From the mountaintop, Trent said, we can see what needs to be done without fear, defensiveness or self-preservation. There’s creativity, imagination, the ability to pull communities together toward a larger goal.

As Black History Month begins, as schools seek to educate children about notable African-American people who have and continue to shape United States history, we at The Dispatch encourage people to attend workshops, read articles and support area business owners and leaders who are African-American.

A sermon from Vernon Johns, remembered as a minister who spoke about spirituality and racial justice, urged people to work toward a vision of a just future.

“Too often, history strikes us as a medley of blind and futile ramblings. ‘A tale told by an idiot amid great sound and fury, signifying nothing.’ ‘The drift of the Maker is dark,’” Trent read. “But on the mountain top, perspective is possible; above the confusion of the plains, the visitant beholds Moses in one age, Elijah in another, Jesus, Luther and Lincoln, each in another; all joining hands across the Ages and moving humanity in the direction of that “one far off, divine event to which the whole creation moves.”