Event Mistress of Ceremonies, Ms. Ethel Alexander
COLONY – Citizens of Colony and others gathered in the town’s Educational Complex Friday night, packing its auditorium to celebrate Black History Month, and to celebrate Colony’s own history as a community. The event slogan was "Stepping from Our Past into Our Future."
Around the auditorium, displays recognized local families and noteworthy members of the community over the years. Former Colony Mayor Earline Johnson recounted the history of the town from its founding by former slaves. Presentations by local children celebrated famous African-American personalities from throughout the nation’s history:
- Nate Love, cowboy……………………………….presented by Gabriel Surez
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ………..……… presented by Darius Hall
- Gabby Douglas, Olympic gymnast ………. presented by Azaria Watson
- Nina Mae McKinney, actress ………………presented by Alex Twitty
- Deja Miller, female stagecoach driver ……presented by Deja Miller
During the children’s presentations, Diamon Miller also appeared as the Statue of Liberty, to represent the American ideal of freedom.
The main honoree of the evening was a local hero known to few outside Colony: Ms. Kizzie Montgomery, Mayor Donnis Leeth’s great grandmother. She was, according to the program bulletin, “known for many abilities in the Colony such as mid-wife, farmer, and wife. She will be remembered for her delicious gingerbread cookies and stewed possum. Ms. Kizzie, a legend in her times, will be remembered as one of Colony’s Honored and Valued Female Pioneers.”
One of the children whom Ms. Kizzie helped birth many years ago was in attendance, and was presented an honorary birth certificate. Certificates were also presented to all Colony residents more than 80 years of age.
Ms. Catherine Minnett and Ms. Ernestine Bell sang classic spirituals, and both provoked moving impromptu singalongs from the audience.
The evening was not without its share of laughs. Ms. Linda Bradford broke the audience up with her detailed explanation of a traditional approach to cooking possum. Leeth brought down the house with not only a vivid description, but also an entertaining demonstration of how to hand-pick cotton. Though humorous, the historical implication was lost on no one; children were told to remember it as a reminder of how well they have things today.
Several local personalities spoke as symbolic representatives of famous African Americans: Mistress of Ceremonies Ethel Alexander represented Harriet Tubman, while Councilman Curtis Johnson told the story of George Washington Carver’s achievements in science. Former Mayor John Purifoy read to the audience Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Pastor and former Cullman County legislator, Rep. James Fields, representing Barack Obama, delivered the keynote address.
Recounting the Old Testament story of Nehemiah, Fields spoke about making positive change, “People can make a change. And without change, nothing changes. Change must take place. One: you must recognize within yourself that change needs to occur. Two: you must seek the help of the only one who can help you build. And number Three: you must be committed to the task.
“When we are committed to a task, we don’t give up in the face of opposition. That’s when we work harder, and we must work together.”
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