Craven Community College (Craven CC) held two Black History Month events in February to commemorate the 41st annual observation in the United States. In his National African American History Month proclamation, U.S. President Donald J. Trump said, “For generations, African Americans have embodied the shared progress of our Nation.”
Over 100 staff, faculty and students joined in the “Black History Reflections Event” at the Havelock campus on February 15. Guest speakers Carol Becton, New Bern native and retired educator; and Fred Bell, Craven CC facilities maintenance technologist, shared local and personal histories with the audience.
Becton, who serves on the board of the New Bern Historical Society, presented “The Dynamic Rhone Sisters, A Force in New Bern.” Becton outlined the impacts that trailblazers Carrie and Charlotte Rhone made in the early to mid-1900s.
Bell presented the history of his family in Harlowe and Craven Corner, North Carolina. He chronologically presented information about his family starting with Daniel Bell who appeared on the census in 1870 and who may have been a slave and was from the West Indies. Bell also shared area’s history of boat building, farming, fishing and milling.
According to event organizer, Sylvia King, director of student services at Craven CC’s Havelock campus, she wanted a presentation that included people in our community and events that didn’t make it in the history books.
On Thursday, February 23, “A Black History Cultural Experience” was presented at the New Bern campus. This performance featured Jabali Afrika, a roots music duo of brothers from Kenya. The emcee who guided the event was Donell Bryant, Craven CC barbering instructor.
Over 150 students, staff, faculty and community members participated in the New Bern campus event. Among the participants were children from the City of New Bern Parks and Recreation’s Bear After School Program. This was the third consecutive year the five to 13-year-olds attended the college’s Black History event. Program coordinators E.J. Godette and Cynthia G. White said the event was the final part of the students’ Black History educational program.
Craven CC student Miciah Edwards sang the National Negro Anthem, which inspired audience members to stand and sing along. Quickly, the mood changed to celebration of African American culture through upbeat tempo music that incorporated traditional instruments and vocals in Swahili. Jabali Afrika invited audience members on stage to learn dance steps and encouraged each to dance “free style” to their Afro-Rock beats.
The final performance was 3CGC Craven Community College Gospel Choir singing, with special guest performer Vivian Hargett. They closed the event by performing a song called, “Better.”
Christina Bowman-Murray, Craven CC student, interim Campus Life coordinator and event organizer said, “It was fun seeing our students experiencing the African culture by dancing and having fun,” said Murray.
Deborah Kania is the director of marketing, communications and development liaison at Craven Community College.
Article originally appeared in the New Bern Sun Journal.