“You are young, gifted and Black, We must begin to tell our youth There’s a world waiting for you, Yours is a quest that’s just begun.”
In 1969, singer, songwriter and civil rights activist Nina Simone penned these lyrics based on a play by writer Lorraine Hansberry. These lyrics were a call to action for young Black Americans to pursue their potential. And they were a call to action for the nation in general to recognize that potential and to nurture it.
And they have struck a chord with us as we join the nation in celebrating Black History Month.
This is the time when we pay particular attention to the contributions African Americans have made to every aspect of our history and culture. It is the time when we highlight the work of Black inventors, teachers, doctors, artists, politicians, musicians, civil rights leaders, CEOs, farmers and scientists.
But it’s just as important to recognize the work that Black Americans are doing now — today — in our own community.
The Black men and woman who have assumed leadership roles locally are setting an example for our youth. Police Chief Denise Downer-McKinney, former Mayor Bill Collins, City Planner Art Newell, Bishop Nealon Guthrie, Sandra Hudson of the Housing Authority, attorney Chris Twyman. These are people whose work and commitment to the community surpass any racial lines.
Willie Mae Samuel, Greg Shropshire and Charles Love. These are folks who work diligently to to empower the Black community while fostering the messages of unity, upliftment and positive change.
And we must commend the next generation of Black community members who are taking an active role in changing Rome and Floyd County. As Junior Service League President, attorney Deana Perry is leading her organization toward helping those of all races who are less fortunate. And young muralist Xaivier Ringer uses her creativity and artistic talents to make Rome a brighter, more colorful place spreading beauty and joy in a very visible and tangible way.
Sherica Bailey, Jarrod “J.J.” Johnson, John Mays, Mike Dean and other Black entrepreneurs have taken their place within the business sector, helping to grow various industries across the county.
We can’t possibly name everyone whose work or presence in the community has had a positive impact. But we can say thank you. To the Black Americans who, through their work and dedication, have made Rome and Floyd County a better place, we appreciate you.
And we hope that our community continues to support, encourage and empower the next generation of Black Americans that they may achieve great things to the benefit of us all.