"Raise Your Voice" held at Old Hotel

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
The Newberry Observer, S.C.
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Feb. 26—The members of the community who performed during "Raise Your Voice." Pictured, left to right: David Goggins, Joe McDonald, Alexis Sanders, Martha Graham, Jacqueline Holmes, Sheila Brown, Rev. Moses Rembert and Carlton Kinard.

Courtesy photo

Alexis Sanders reading Amanda Gorman's poem "The Hill We Climb" during "Raise Your Voice."

Courtesy photo

NEWBERRY — You may have heard voices raised Thursday, February 18, in the lobby of the Old Newberry Hotel. Not in anger, but in celebration. In a production called "Raise Your Voice," local Newberry residents read excerpts from speeches, essays, and poems by people who have spoken up about issues of importance.

The event was sponsored by the Newberry County Literacy Council and the Old Hotel. In conjunction with Black History Month, the voices were African Americans, several with South Carolina Roots. Each voice was a reminder that democracy is based on speaking up, even when it may be dangerous to do so.

Literacy Council Director Barbara Chapman welcomed guests to the event and Joe McDonald introduced the 'voices' to be heard.

First was Sojourner Truth, a former slave who had spoken out about offensive treatment of women in a famous speech entitled "Ain't I a Woman?" in 1851. Sheila Brown played this part.

Next, Carlton Kinard spoke as Dr. Benjamin Mays, born in Ninety Six and former president of Moorhouse College. He read what Mays had written about advising students as they planned sit-ins at segregated restaurants in Atlanta in the 1960s.

Jackie Holmes read two poems by Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize winning author of "The Color Purple." One poem was about finding your own road to follow even if others don't understand it and the other was about how the poor can educate the rich.

Next to speak was Mr. Henry McNeil Turner, played by the Rev. Moses Rembert. Turner was born in Abbeville and was appointed the 12th AME Bishop in 1880. He was elected to the Georgia State Legislature in 1868, during Reconstruction, but denied his seat because he was Black. Rembert read part of a speech he gave in the legislature protesting this action.

Martha Graham appeared as Marian Wright Edelman, born in Bennettsville and director of the Children's Defense Fund, a lobbying group for children. Edelman's speech urged us all to 'stand up for children. '

David Goggins gave parts of a powerful speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in Chicago in 1966. King had gone to Chicago to fight for economic justice, fair housing, and equal education.

Bayard Rustin was next, he was a giant figure in the Civil Rights Movement from the 1930s till his death in 1987. He was a close advisor to King and a principal organizer of the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom. Joe McDonald read from parts of a document Rustin wrote about the need for a "Freedom Budget" that would ensure jobs, health care, and needed services for all.

The final and youngest voice was provided by Alexus Smith, a high school student from Whitmire. She read the poem delivered during President Biden's inauguration by Amanda Gorman, entitled "The Hill We Climb."

Chapman and McDonald praised the efforts of the local citizens who had volunteered their time, effort, and talent to stage this production and the importance for all of us to 'raise our voices' to speak out on issues of importance.

They thanked the audience, limited to thirty, for supporting an event of this type. If there is sufficient interest, they said, the group would be happy to present the event again, at the Old Hotel or another venue.