Buried Truth: Save the date!

I am thrilled to report that the Orange County African-American Historical Society (OCAAHS) will host its first-ever awards banquet. Now, this may seem somewhat humdrum to a lot of folks, but that would be an incorrect assumption.

OCAAHS was founded in 2001 and adopted the following mission statement:

“The Orange County African-American Historical Society (OCAAHS) was founded to explore African-American contributions to the cultural and historical heritage of Orange County, Virginia. We also seek to enhance and promote awareness of the accomplishments and contribution of people of African descent as organic and essential components of our community, and of our nation at large. Toward those ends, we endeavor to identify, research and preserve African-American legacies, lore, and historical sites.”

A noble and much-needed mantra!

During its years of organized activities, the group has sponsored exhibits and presentations to enlighten and inform the public. The signature event for the last 10 years has been the organization and implementation of the annual celebration of Juneteenth. It is quite the record for a small group of volunteers!

Now they are taking another giant step: the awards banquet, which will also serve as their first-ever fundraising event.

Inquiring minds may be pondering the nature of the awards and I am pleased to tell you all about it.

The idea is to recognize individuals within the African-American community, as well as those who are not people of color, who have gone above and beyond their compensated work to raise awareness of black history. This includes the accomplishments of people of color; the heritage of free and enslaved ancestors; and the evidence of remarkable perseverance, achievement, and creativity despite enslavement and the oppression of Jim Crow and the humiliating and intimidating rules of segregation—written or unwritten.

The challenge? There are far too many persons who qualify for this recognition to manage in one awards banquet. Hopefully, this will be the first of many. Recognizing these individuals and sharing their stories is just one more way that OCAAHS can fulfill its mission, but there is another benefit as well.

Sadly, we have remained socially segregated far too long and we are not well aware of our neighbors and associates. Learning about others is a form of bridge-building and can only strengthen the community.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, Oct.20, and will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Town of Orange Community Center. Dinner will be catered by the Rev. Ludwell Brown and you can expect a delicious meal.

Space is limited, and we have already had a whopping outcry for tickets and tables. There are several opportunities to participate: tickets at $35; sponsorships (with complimentary tickets while they last and advertising in the event booklet); donations in any amount; and finally, my favorite is the Ancestral Honor Roll. For $10 per ancestor (your own or someone else’s), you can recognize an ancestor by name—theirs and yours.

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I would recommend not waiting if you would like to attend. Nonetheless, should you wish to support with a sponsorship, donation, Honor Roll submission or ticket for attendance, the OCAAHS is ready to speak with you.

For tickets, please contact any member of the board named below or send your check to: OCAAHS/Awards Banquet, 130 Caroline St., Orange, VA 22960. If you are interested in a sponsorship and ad in the booklet or the Ancestral Honor Roll, please contact Zann Nelson at (540) 718-3465 or M16439@aol.com.

If you are eager to know who this year’s OCAAHS Excel Award recipients are, you will have to stay tuned!

OCAAHS Board Members are the Rev. Darryle Crump, Mrs. Rebecca Coleman, Ms. Joann Brock, Ms. April Taylor, the Rev. James McIntosh, the Rev. Robert Anthony, Deacon Edmund Harrison, Dr. Matt Reeves and historian Zann Nelson.

Previously published in the Orange County Review, Thursday, July 26.

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