Heritage festival held at Kennard
CENTREVILLE — Kennard Alumni Association in partnership with Abundant Life Restoration Ministries hosted the African American Heritage Family Festival Sunday afternoon, Feb. 18, at the renovated Kennard High School, built orginally in 1936, and used as the All-Negro segregated high school in Queen Anne’s County until 1966. In 1967, Queen Anne’s County High School was opened bringing integration and all high school students under one roof in the county.
The proud graduates of Kennard have restored the former school building to turn it into a cultural arts and community center and are on the threshold of doing just that after years of fundraising and renovation. Several events have recently been held at the building although the grand opening is yet to come.
A small African American museum has been started inside the former school. One of the classrooms has been restocked with old-time student desks and textbooks, historical poster displays of the histor y of Kennard, featuring Teachers of Kennard and a history of Colored Schools of Queen Anne’s County.
Kennard Alumni Association President Clayton Washington welcomed everyone who attended the program Saturday. He said, “Yesterday I was able to attend the National African American Museum in Washington, D.C. I hope we can eventually turn our small museum here into a similar museum for our community, on a much smaller scale. We need all of you, all peoples who reside in our county, to do this, We can’t do it alone.”
As part of the program, everyone in attendance stood and sang the James Weldon Johnson song, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also know as the “Black American National Anthem” and the official song of the NAACP.
Sandra Butler served as mistress of ceremonies for the program, introducing all who performed. She first introduced the singing trio of Friends in Faith, members Dana Bowser, Zita Seals and Tory Brown. The group sang “Praise the Lord, I’m Free” and “Open My Mouth.”
They were followed by children dressed in colonial-style costumes telling stories of little known former slaves from Queen Anne’s County. One of those was known only as “Negro Eve” who died in 1771, and another a black man named London Gould from 1799.
Butler said, “These stories are about everybody’s struggle from the past. This is not just a black struggle. Today, if we look closely, we have different types of slavery that are colorless. Slavery of incarceration and addictions. Regardless of your color, don’t allow these things to enslave you!”
Later in the program, four members of the community were honored for their work: Authur Lee Jones Sr., Regina Bennett, Madelyn Hollis and Rev. Janet Rochester. Each has been a pillar of leadership and a role model for others to emulate and follow.
Proceeds from the event will be used to fund the Kennard Alumni Scholarship Fund for deser ving high school seniors in Queen Anne’s County.
Sandra Butler introduces performers during the African American Heritage Family Festival Saturday afternoon, Feb. 18, at the restored Kennard High School.
Dana Bowser speaks briefly about the intent of the first African American Heritage Family Festival held Saturday afternoon, Feb. 18, inside the former Kennard High School.
All of the segregated All-Negro one-room school houses that once existed in Queen Anne’s County can be seen through photographs inside the restored former Kennard High School building in Centreville.
Standing next to the The Teachers of Kennard display is Madelyn (Matthews) Hollis, who began teaching at Kennard High School in September 1951. She, along with three others, were honored during the African American Heritage Family Festival, Saturday, Feb. 18, at the former school.
Part of the display showing a picture of Madelyn (Matthews) Hollis, teacher at Kennard High School, beginning in 1951 with all the basic information about her teaching career, now on exhibit inside the newly restored building that is being transformed into a cultural arts and community center in Centreville.
Friends in Faith, from the left, Dana Bowser, Zita Seals and Tory Brown, harmonized for severalsongs during the African American Heritage Family Festival on Saturday, Feb. 18, at the restored Kennard High School.
The former Kennard High School is being transformed into a cultural history building. Part of one classroom has desks and books once used by the students who attended the AllNegro segregated school in Queen Anne’s County.
MarKeith Demby Jr., left, and Annah Reed, dressed in colonial attire, introduced storytellers of African American history, Saturday afternoon, Feb. 18, as part of the African American Heritage Family Festival in Centreville.
Kennard Alumni Association President Clayton Washington welcomes everyone to African American Heritage Family Festival, Saturday afternoon, Feb. 18.