Two local events will close out Black History Month

Published 2:51 pm Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The last couple events of Black History Month in Demopolis will are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday night this week.

On Wednesday, Demopolis native Dr. Charles J. Smith Sr., will speak at Demopolis Public Library at 5:30 p.m. On Thursday, the Marengo County History and Archives Museum will host a program on the history of African-American music at the Rosenbush Building at 6 p.m.

A Demopolis native and 1969 U.S. Jones High School graduate, Smith had the opportunity to shake Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s hand when he spoke at Old Morning Star Baptist Church in Demopolis when Smith was just 13.

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Last summer, Smith attended the 50th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 24, Smith’s 62nd birthday.

Currently, Smith is serving his fifth term as president of the Augusta, Ga., branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The Augusta branch currently has 493 active members. His branch has won several awards at the NAACP National Convention, including six NAACP National Million Dollar Club Awards and one National Club 100 Award at the most recent convention in Orlando, Fla.

In addition to his success with the NAACP, he is the current Omega Psi Phi Fraternity State Citizen of the Year and the current Georgia Retired Educators Association State Community Service Award recipient.

He is married to Susie Jones Smith of Demopolis, and he is the son of the late Jim Smith and Mattie Smith-Wilson. They have two children, Charles Smith Jr. and Yashica Charnelle Smith, seven grandchildren and one great-grandson.

Thursday evening’s program will feature music from six different genres throughout African-American history.

“I’m going to talk about the different genres and how they got started,” said Mary Jones-Fitts, Marengo County History and Archives Museum president. “I’ll start with the spirituals, which helped the slaves get through the underground railroad and how that got started, all the way up to Motown and groups like The Temptations.”

The six genres to be featured during the presentation will be Spirituals, Gospels, Blues, Jazz, Swing, Bebop and Motown.

Jones-Fitts will also talk about a famous artist that once played a concert in Demopolis. She said she will highlight two people from each genre.

The event is free, and there will be refreshments.