Racial Harmony Dedication Day scheduled for February

Published 2:31 pm Friday, January 27, 2023

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At the recently opened The Hall Coffee & Social Club last Friday afternoon, business as usual might have been seemingly taking place.

However, for a group of ladies, planning was underway.

In preparation for Feb. 16’s Resolution on Racial Harmony Dedication Day Services hosted by the Winchester Black History and Heritage Committee, the steering committee met to discuss the upcoming event.

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“We had some community members who wrote this resolution and rewrote it and rewrote it,” said Linda Rector, one of the steering committee members. “It was passed unanimously by the mayor and all the commissioners in 2022, and also before the county officials where it was also passed unanimously.”

Another committee sees the event as a sign of progress.

“For everyone to go ahead and say ‘yes’ and [for] us to get the plaque on the courthouse was a monumental occasion in itself,” said Anna Mason. “That tells me that we are moving forward.”

Following an anonymous donation, a plaque with the resolution written on it was installed at the Clark County Courthouse entrance.

Newly located just to the right of the entrance, it reads as follows:

“WHEREAS, thousands of Africans and their descendants were enslaved in Winchester and Clark County from 1775 to 1865;

WHEREAS, in 1860 just prior to the Civil War, forty-two (42) percent of the population of Clark County was enslaved, and black people were bought and sold at the Clark County Courthouse;

WHEREAS, following Emancipation, injustices against African Americans continued with outbreaks of violence, lynchings, racial segregation and discrimination

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Winchester City Commission and Clark County Fiscal Court that

(1) We are committed to the principle that all people are created equal;

(2) We acknowledge the fundamental inhumanity and injustice of slavery and segregation;

(3) We regret the wrongs that were committed against African Americans in our community in the past;

(4) We recognize that much progress toward racial equality has been made in our community; and

(5) We express our continuing opposition to all forms of racial discrimination.

The plaque steering committee consists of Rector, Mason, Debbie Barnes, Jane Burnam, Becky Farmer, and Joyce Morton.”

The Winchester Black History and Heritage Committee is not the only organization working to put on the event.

Better Together, which has long been associated with seeking ways to serve the local community, has also come aboard.

“Better Together has come with us to make this work [and] to show the city that we are better together,” said Joyce Morton. “As we sit here, we’re looking to let people know that that plaque means something, [and] that it’s time for Winchester to say, ‘I really believe what’s outside that door.’”

Debbie Barnes admires the history of the event.

“I’m here because I believe in the work that they’ve done and the recognition of the rich history,” Barnes said, also the curator of Holly Rood on Beckner Street. “We’ve got to remember that it’s not just black history. That’s our history…If it’s left out, we all lose.”

Several thoughts are still under consideration as they put together the program.

These include what food and beverages to put together.

However, plenty has already been decided.

The ceremony at the Clark County Courthouse is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will feature Winchester Black History and Heritage Committee President Jacquetta Hudson as Mistress of Ceremonies.

Appearances will be made by Clark County Judge-Executive Les Yates, Winchester Mayor JoEllen Reed, the GRC Chorus, Pastor Marvin King of First Baptist Church, Clark County historian Harry Enoch, and more.

The committee hopes to see Winchester show up for support.

“The fact that so many groups and individuals are working together to make the change a reality…that’s what means something to me,” Becky Farmer said.