The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will celebrate Black History Month with three films, two lectures, a Web page with a link to historic African-American sites and an ArtWorks television program focusing on a young African-American singer. All activities are free and the public is invited to attend.
The special events will take place in the Culture Center at the State Capitol Complex in Charleston beginning Monday, Feb. 6, with a showing of the film Up From Slavery for the Museum Monday program. The documentary film tells the dramatic story of black slavery in America from the first arrival of African slaves at Jamestown in 1619 to the Civil War and the ratification of the 15th Amendment in 1870 which prohibits the government from denying a citizen the vote based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude. The film, produced by Mill Creek Entertainment in 2011, is just over five hours long and consists of seven segments. It will begin at 10 a.m. and be aired in the Museum Education Media Room.
On Tuesday, Feb. 7, Charleston attorney Tom Rodd will present the lecture “J. R. Clifford and the Carrie Williams Case” in the Archives and History Library at 6 p.m. Rodd will discuss Clifford’s 1898 landmark case, Williams v. Board of Education of Tucker County, which produced the first ruling in U.S. history to determine that racial discrimination was illegal. When the Tucker County Board of Education reduced the school term of African-American schools from eight months to five months to save money, Carrie Williams, a black teacher, consulted Clifford for advice. He suggested she continue teaching for the entire eight months. When the board refused to pay her for the additional three months, Clifford took the case to court. The West Virginia Supreme Court found in favor of Williams.
At 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10, visitors are invited to come see the film A Principled Man: Rev. Leon Sullivan in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater. The 60-minute documentary produced by MotionMasters, a Charleston, W.Va.,-based video production and design studio, takes viewers on a journey from the mountains of West Virginia to America’s boardrooms and across the fields of Africa. Equal pay for equal work and integration of the races in all restaurants, workplaces and other public facilities are just two of the principles the late Rev. Leon Sullivan worked tirelessly to promote. Sullivan mentored Martin Luther King, Jr., helped free Nelson Mandela from prison and spent years fighting apartheid in South Africa. Diana Sole Walko, CEO of MotionMasters and executive producer for the film, worked closely with Sullivan in making the film and traveled to Africa five times to work with him and his foundation. She will lead a question and answer session after the film.
The Daniel Boone Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution, will hold its quarterly meeting in the Archives and History Library at 2 p.m., on Saturday, Feb. 18. Frank Volk, senior law clerk for the Federal District Court of the Southern District of West Virginia will present “With all Deliberate Speed: The Courage of Lower Federal Judges in Implementing the Supreme Court’s Civil Rights and Racial Equality Decisions in the 1950s and 1960s,” at the meeting.
West Virginia native and award-winning filmmaker Mari-Lynn Evans will present the PBS documentary project Hawks Nest: Blood Beneath Our Feet at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 19. Evans will introduce several speakers and musical guests. Participants also can view a seven-minute trailer for the film Hawks Nest: Blood Beneath Our Feet. Everyone also will receive a free sapling, courtesy of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy
The Division’s arts section will air its television program, ArtWorks, with special guest Andre Williams who will talk about his love of singing and perform a few of his favorite songs. Williams, a senior at Greenbrier East High School spent time this past December with Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr., 2011 winner of America’s Got Talent, traveling with him on tour and sharing the stage with him at several concerts. The ArtWorks television show is a production of the West Virginia Library Commission. This February program will air on Suddenlink Channel 17 on Fridays at 10:30 a.m., 4:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., and on Saturdays at 4:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m.
The historic preservation section of the Division will have a special link to National Register nominations that are related to black history in West Virginia, including the World War Memorial in Kimball, W.Va. which was completed in 1928 to recognize black veterans of World War I. It also served as a social center for people of the coalfields. The link can be accessed at www.wvculture.org/shpo/2012BHM.html.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.