Black History Month Celebration focuses on unity


Andre Cooper


Staff Writer

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

MyBryde Auditorium was almost filled to capacity Tuesday for a Black History Month Celebration in the Lamm Building on the Rocky Mount campus of Edgecombe Community College.

The event, which was sponsored by ECC’s College and Career Readiness Department, Student Success Center and the Student Government Association focused on the theme of “Taking the High Road to Unity.” Andre Cooper, a 2015 ECC graduate, was the keynote speaker at the event.

In 2013, while a student at ECC, Cooper won a national award for public speaking at the Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, Calif. 

“I am asking people to follow me on this road to unity,” Cooper said. “It is important to note that black history is America’s history. We can’t possibly have one without the other. From the bricks that were laid to build that house on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C., to the fields that were cropped by our slave ancestors right here in Edgecombe County, black history is America’s history. So this month and every month, I wish that all people of color and of non-color walk together knowing that our history has been established together.”

Cooper said he was pleased with the theme of “Taking the High Road to Unity.”

“It sounds like a sweet harmony played on a soothing instrument to my ears; an encouraging sentiment wishing to usher us into a destiny where many civil rights leaders fought for us to be,” Cooper said.

Cooper also defined what it means to take the high road to unity.

“To take the high road means to do the right thing, even when it is not easy or popular with the majority — in short, righteousness. ... This is the direction of unity — not the ways of hatred, resentment and self-centeredness — that would be considered the low road. Some of us are more concerned with building a wall instead of finding a wall to tear down,” Cooper said.

Tuesday’s event also featured a panel of local educators and dignitaries who discussed various aspects of unity as they were led by moderator ECC President Greg McLeod. The panelists included Edgecombe County Sheriff Clee Atkinson, North Edgecombe High School Principal Donnell Cannon, Teach for America Leadership Coach Daniel Riley and the Rev. Audrey McCarter-Hedgepeth, pastor of Greater Love Christian Community Church.

The Rev. Willie Moore of Word Tabernacle Church sang several spirituals at the event. Other spoken word selections were performed by ECC students Kiyah Darden, Nyeem Davis and Wesley Lucas.