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Exhibit details local black history

The familiar black and gold colors bear witness to a legacy of trailblazers and leaders, and, through the end of February, the Lincoln County Library plays host to a small sample of that legacy.

In celebration of Black History Month, an exhibit at the library features photos, posters and information describing the history of the former Alexander High School, now Alexander Junior High.

The hard work of Maxine Allen, a longtime employee of the Lincoln County Library, is responsible for the display.

A 1970 graduate of Alexander, Allen is proud to be able to highlight men like former school principal Jessie Buie.

“He was a fighter; he fought for civil rights,” Allen said of Buie, the man who led Alexander while Allen attended.

Alexander served at the segregated high school for black students in Brookhaven until the hard-fought victories of the civil rights movement began to tear down the walls of Deep South Jim Crow laws.

Buie was the last principal of Alexander High School and became the first principal of Alexander Junior High when the city schools were integrated in 1970.

The man still cuts a strong profile in Allen’s memory.

“He was a quiet man,” she said. “He didn’t say much, but he put his words into action.”

Allen is also working to put her words into action. This February is the fourth year she’s personally created a library display in honor of Black History Month.

For the three previous years, she has made available information about Brookhaven’s first black achievers, the men and women who broke barriers by becoming the first to serve in positions of city and county government, law enforcement and other positions of leadership throughout the area.

This year, Allen decided to shift the focus a little bit and shine a spotlight on the much-honored legacy of Alexander.

Allen’s annual exhibits have been well received, and that’s been reward enough for her.

“Most of what I was proud of was how the community appreciated it,” she said.

Younger generations with no firsthand memory of the days before legally enforced equality are who Allen hopes to have an impact on.

“It’s for the children,” she said. “Let them know you can do whatever you set your mind and dreams on. To encourage the youth.”

Reflecting on the personal meaning of Black History Month and her annual displays, the Brookhaven native described the changes she has experienced throughout her life.

“Now, I think we get along better,” Allen said. “We’re a better group of people, black and white.”