February library exhibit salutes black citizens’ achievements

Published 9:00 pm Sunday, February 12, 2012

Brookhaven residents gathered Saturdayafternoon at the Lincoln County Public Library to celebrate firsthistorical achievements by black citizens in the Brookhavenarea.

    The event was organized by Maxine Allen in celebration of BlackHistory Month.

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    This is the third year the event has taken place at the library.This year’s exhibit honors around 40 people and Saturday’sreception drew a large crowd.

    Allen, who’s worked for the library for over 25 years, said blackartists used to display their works during the month of February tocelebrate Black History Month, but that eventually came to astop.

    She said the idea for celebrating black achievers came from a Dr.Martin L. King, Jr. event that celebrated firsts among the blackcommunity.

    “A few years ago the MLK event focused on the first blacks invarious positions, and this grew out of that,” said Allen.

    Allen said the event has grown every year.

    “I get new names added all the time, but I just don’t have time toresearch for this year,” said Allen.

    The event honored achievers like John Dow, Sr., who was principalat Alexander Jr. High and was the first black appointee as LincolnCounty assistant superintendent of public schools in 1977.

    Also included among the displays, Irvin Roberson was the firstblack policeman for the city of Brookhaven in 1964. He retired ascaptain in 1994 after 30 years of service.

    Roberson served as the bailiff for the Lincoln County Court systemfor 11 years after he retired from BPD. He was honored as The DAILYLEADER’s Citizen of the Year in 2007.

    Allen said she looks forward to continued growth for the event inthe future. The current exhibit will continue through the month ofFebruary.

    February has been Black History Month since 1926.

    The recognition began as Black History Week, which took placeduring the second week of February. That week was chosen because itcontains the birthdays of two figures, Abraham Lincoln and FredrickDouglass, who greatly impacted lives and social conditions ofblacks in the United States.