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  • Bob Arnold

WAC celebrates African American history

By Bob Arnold

WAC celebrates African American history
Step dancers.

Love yourself, plan and draw on God's power to achieve your potential and life's purpose, Rev. Jamerson Jackson told his audience of mostly Wesson Attendance Center students last month at WAC's fifteenth annual celebration of Black History Month.

Jackson, a pastor and social/political advocate who is a native of Fayette, Mississippi, and bases a ministry to Louisiana and Mississippi churches at Baton Rouge, spoke at the special evening event of song, dance and poetry readings to inspirationally frame its theme -- "The Power of Community" -- as it applied to individual African Americans particularly.

"The past is important to understand, but it does not dictate where you are going," he declared. "You can be what people say you can't. Move forward and do not stand still. Challenge yourself. Create a path with a plan and a passion. Persevere with God's help."

Wesson High School English and drama instructor Albert Brown and librarian Kendra Armistad orchestrated the celebration of the national focus on the contributions of African Americans to society and culture.

Gage Smith, Wesson High School Senior Beta Club president and a 2022 WAC Hall of Fame inductee, discussed "What Is Black History" to introduce the event and Paris Dickerson and soloist Sydney Thomas dedicated the program to the life and impact WAC staffer Bessie M. Smith who died in January.

The event, held in the Old Gymnasium at WAC, also featured:

  • The Wesson Gospel Ensemble, assembled and conducted by Brown, which interspersed Shirley Caesar's It's Alright. It's Okay and Harvey Watkins' It's in My Heart to punctuate dance and readings. Soloists included Tyler Fuller and Walter Butler.

  • Poetry readings -- Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Hilary Kiser's His Dream Live On -- by Jamera Black and Ja'Cionne Hilliard.

  • A step performance based on the African tradition of rhythmic foot movements, hand clapping and voice by Wesson High School students who call themselves The Cobra Steppers.

  • A band from St. Peter Rock M.B. Church.

The program took place in a setting and ambiance created by hundreds of posters on the walls of the Old Gymnasium that celebrated people and events in African American history. They are the contributions of students in Brown's English classes assigned to research the people and events and report on them with posters and other visuals. Each year Brown hangs posters from past classes as well as from ones he currently teaches to provide an appropriate backdrop for the annual WAC celebration.


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