EUTAWVILLE - Community leaders and guests gathered at the Eutawville Community Center for the seventh annual South Carolina Heritage and Humanities Festival.
“South Carolina is blessed with a richness in people and cultures that have shaped our state and strengthened the fabric of our nation,” founder and organizer Byron Brown said during the Feb. 28 event, reading a message from Gov. Henry McMaster. “We celebrate diversity and the unique flavor it adds to every aspect of our lives – from the foods we eat and the clothes we wear to the art, music and entertainment we enjoy."
He added, "The theme of this year’s event, Moving Closer Towards the Dream: 50 Years after MLK, serves as a reminder as you continue the efforts of those who have gone before you and sets an example for those who will follow. You are helping to bridge the gap to unity and promote tolerance, respect, kindness and understanding among all of mankind.”
Brown also read the following message from Congressman James E. Clyburn: “As we approach the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, it is an opportunity to reflect on his legacy and impact today. Dr. King’s efforts to improve race relations through nonviolent action are felt to this day in communities all over South Carolina and across America. Of course, we also live with his unfinished vision as fights rage on over certain civil and voting rights and far too many are mired in poverty and denied economic opportunity, which was central to his vision. The conference’s theme this year reminds us we must continue to march towards the dream of equality and continue to build stronger bonds in our communities to unite people of all races and ethnic backgrounds. It is always important to remember what we share in common is much more powerful than what divides us.”
Dr. Darius McCarthy, former Los Angeles Rams wide receiver, served as keynote speaker for the event. He spoke of the many changes that have taken place in America and the black community during the half century since King's death. McCarthy noted that while a great deal of progress had occurred, much work remains to be done. He read a passage from Revelations 14 that told of the day when Jesus Christ would return to establish justice among all the peoples of the earth.
“I want to be there when he comes,” McCarthy said. “What about you? Let his truth march on.”
The program also featured an invocation by Deacon Bill Williams. Elder Joseph Stevens gave a spiritual reading, and Hannah Brown read a poem. Musical performers included Gospel Lioness Mekiella Risher, Progressive Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Kim Lee, the Trinity Mass Choir of Goose Creek and Glenn Reben and Family. In addition, Leroy Brown of Clinton, Maryland gave a brief presentation on helping people realize their financial dreams by saving and investing their money wisely.
Also during the festival, judges selected the winners of this year’s Langston Hughes Poetry Contest. Participants were judged based on confidence, eye contact, articulation, projection and creativity. The winning students were:
- First place was captured by Daniel Brown, a fourth grader at Mary F. Williams Elementary in Woodbridge, Virginia.
- Second place went to Eriele Bethel, a third grade at North Spring Elementary in Columbia.
- Third place went to Kyndal Watson, a third grader at Gilbert Primary in Gilbert.
Each student recited a combination of three of Langston Hughes’s shorter poems combined into a single selection. The source poems were “Dream Variation,” “Hold Fast to Dream” and “What Happens to a Dream Deferred?” The judges were Orangeburg accountant Elouise Davis, Jackie McCarthy and Dorchester School District 4 Superintendent Dr. Morris Ravenell.
The festival concluded with closing remarks and a benediction from Rev. Harry Lee Brown, the eldest member of Eutawville Town Council. Participants and attendees then enjoyed a meal together to celebrate the successful conclusion of the event.