Presentations from Salem High school Forensics students Jerrel Ledbetter, Jonathan Walker and Philip Rodgers, as well as singing by Kaylin Bullock, and a reading of “Million Man March Poem” by Jacqueleen Jordan highlighted the annual black history reception honoring the nearly 50 current and retired African American employees of Salem city schools.
Each presentation brought something of the past, present, and future of black history in America to the spotlight.
Walker’s presentation, “The Black Plague” spoke of the voluntary segregation that is happening in schools across the country. Rogers’ serious dramatic interpretation portrayed a black father reacting to his son going to prison for a murder. Bullock sang “Lift every voice and sing,” and “Change will come.”
“I really don’t know why you needed a guest speaker today,” Katherin Elam said. The longtime Salem resident and Minnesota native spoke at the reception. She is the president of Junior Achievement of Southwest Virginia as well as working at the city of Salem’s electoral board.
She thanked the school’s employees for their service, as well as urging them not to keep their histories to themselves, to write down the rich history of the Salem community. Some present had served up to 30 years with Salem schools, and many were the first African Americans to hold their position.
The event was sponsored by the Salem High School black history month committee.