Dr. Martin Luther King made this statement after his home was bombed during the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1956, “One day, the youth who are not yet born but who will come into this world with new privileges and opportunities, I want them to know and see that these new privileges and opportunities did not come without somebody suffering and sacrificing for them.” I was born in 1957 and attended an all-black school until I started the 3rd grade in 1966. During this time, most schools in the U.S. were being forced to integrate to avoid losing Federal funding, as a result of the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. Therefore, I am a product of integration.My experiences have been many including three years in the U.S. Navy. I have always had a love for history, but still, even today, I have noticed a lack of information about the African American history that is within American history. When my two children started school and Black History Month was celebrated, the teachers would ask them how they had learned so much about so many different people. My name was mentioned and I was asked to come to speak to their classes. At this time, I was starting to provide exhibits for some of the reunions for the former Negro schools that had been closed because of integration and these two services started the Thankful Heritage Museum in 1993. My work reflects and documents the sacrifices and suffering that Dr. MLK, Jr. talked about. As an activist and orator, I believe that the spirit of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement could not be stopped by a single bullet in 1968. These events have inspired a generation and a National holiday that is now being observed by a nation and around the world.
“A Time to Teach.”
Receipient of the… Nancy Susan Reynolds Awards Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.Awarded to organizations for exemplary Leadership in North Carolina communities.Funded by grants and donations from foundations, businesses and philanthropists.Your generous DONATIONS and support are greatly apprciated !•$25 - Member: Newsletter, Volunteer Opportunities, Personalized Recognition, Free Admission•Opportunity to increase from member to supporter, April 5 - August 28•$100 - Supporter: Newsletter, Novelty items, VIP Status, Discounts (10%), Vendor Opportunities•$1,000 - Lifetime Member: Lifetime Membership and Endowment Contribution“A Time to Teach.”
I am motivated by the words of educator, Benjamin E. Mays, President Emeritus of Morehouse College, “To be able to stand the troubles of life, one must have a sense of mission and the belief that God sent him or her into the world for a purpose, to do something unique and distinctive, and that if he does not do it, life will be worse off because it was not done.” I have come to realize that my purpose and my talent, to help to improve race relations in the state of North Carolina, is what I was put on this earth to do.As a result of my many appearances at schools, churches, community centers and businesses to talk about Black history and race relations, my efforts were recognized by the Mayor of my town. I was then nominated to receive and awarded the Nancy Susan Reynolds Award for Improving Race Relations, by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, in 2003. This award is considered to be the Nobel Prize for Non-Profit Organizations across the state of North Carolina. The recognition of my work has made it possible for me to work with many organizations and people who have inspired me through their work. In August of 2005, the U.S. Postal Service commissioned ten stamps to commemorate ten historic milestones of the Civil Rights Movement. This historic event was scheduled to be aired nationwide on that day and I was present at the Greensboro Four location, for a live reporting of the scheduled unveiling. I was greatly excited over the releasing of the Commemorative stamps, which was precisely the focus of my mission, to have all of these historic events and dates showcased. At the same time, the news of Hurricane Katrina striking the Gulf Coast, preempted all media attention. While I was devastated with the destruction of the natural disaster, I was still excited that the commemorative stamps brought a new awareness of race relations to the U.S. and to the world. This, for me, was a blessing to see, all of the events and dates recognized that I was trying to tell people about.In 2007, again for my efforts to promote awareness in improving race relations in the Triad and across the State, I was nominated by Lisa Miller, director of the Senior Center, in Kernersville, NC, to receive the ECHO (Everyone Can Help Out) Award. This award is presented to those who actively work toward strengthening the community. Ultimately, I was awarded this prestigious grant by the Winston-Salem Foundation for my work in Forsyth County for building social capital and embracing ethnic diversity. Additionally, I was a featured guest on the Roy’s Folks segment of the Fox 8 News which highlighted my black history exhibit and my contributions to the same cause. In 2008, I was asked to recount my life experiences for the North Carolina Arts Council. This oral recording would be deposited in the permanent collection of the N.C. Arts Council and used for scholarly, educational, promotional, and other purposes, and would also be used for exhibition, publication, and presentation on the World Wide Web. Also, as Wilkes County celebrated its 230th birthday with the Preserve America Project, again, I was honored to provide a documentation of my experiences growing up as an African American during the Jim Crow era in Wilkes County. Preserve America is a White House Initiative that recognizes and designates communities that protect and celebrate their heritage. This was a surprise and an honor for me as this experience brought back many memories and made me proud of my years of work in race relations in Wilkes County and across the state. In February, 2009, The Save our Wilkes County History Committee sponsored a program, “African-Americans in Wilkes County, N.C.” At this celebration, the DVD of African Americans who had made contributions to the history and improvement of Wilkes County’s history was presented. I was honored to be included in this documentary. This event was a first of its kind and other individuals are being sought to add to this record of heritage and to keep the history ongoing and available for future generations.In April, 2009, my father, Rev. Montreal Howell, and I traveled to Asheville, NC to record a joint interview for Story Corps as part of its Griot Initiative, the largest African American oral history project in the US since the WPA Slave Narratives of the 1930s (in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American history and culture). This project allows a pair of participants the opportunity to leave a legacy in sound for future generations. This was a great opportunity for my father and me to interview each other for this historic initiative. A copy of our interview is now on permanent record at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.On Saturday, February 23, 2013, during the half-time celebration between the ACCs Wake Forest University and the nationally ranked Number 1 University of Miami men’s basketball teams, I was recognized for Service and Mentorship in the Winston-Salem community and was presented with the Outstanding Wake Forest Community Hero award. I am currently working with two Winston-Salem/Forsyth County programs that mean much to me, the Society for the Study of Afro American History (SSAAH), as a member, and the Institute for Dismantling Racism (IDR), as a Board member. The SSAAH is an organization whose objectives are to encourage and stimulate interest in Black history in WSFC and to collect and display historic memorabilia related to the Black experience and to sponsor the establishment of a Black history museum for the city and county. The IDR is a group of institutions and coalitions dedicated to fostering the development of institutional antiracist culture and identity, by organizing, educating and challenging the status quo of racial inequities that exist in our society. In my lifetime, I have been blessed to see many changes in race relations in the state and the nation. These experiences range from the effects of the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Greensboro Four Sit-In Movement, the creating of a federal holiday to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King, and ultimately, to the election and reelection of the Nation’s first African American President, Barack Obama. For more information regarding Thankful Heritage, Inc., please visit our website at www.thankfulheritagemuseum.org or call Effley D. Howell, Sr. at (336) 995-5146.