5 honored at AMS program

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 25, 2012

Three athletes, a doctor and a man who experienced the civil rights movement beside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were recognized Friday as “hometown heroes” at the Andalusia Middle School’s annual Black History program.

Among those recognized were Andalusia High School coach Richard Robertson; University of Alabama football standout, Nico Johnson; former NBA player, Robert Horry; Dr. Kimberly Hutcherson, director of women’s imaging at Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville, Ga.; and Elmo Lewis, who, while as a college student, served as a driver for Dr. King.

Guest speaker for the event was Bettina Byrd-Giles with the Alabama Huma-nities Foundation, who spoke on the uniqueness and diversity found in Alabama.

“When I graduated from college, my grandfather asked me what I was going to give back to Alabama, and it really made me think,” Giles said.

Giles began to explain the many different contributions made by African Americans in areas such as literature, industry, science and business – all while providing inspiration for younger generations.

“Sometimes we don’t consider all of the influence, blood, sweat and tears put into industries that affect the whole world,” she said.

“You had people like Zora Neale Hurston, while Florida tries to claim her, she was actually from Tuskegee,” Giles said. “She was one of the earliest black anthropologists and worked to preserve local dialects.

“There was men like George Washington Carver, who discovered 300 uses for a peanut – which, incidentally, comes from a place not far from here (Dothan) that supplies 65 percent of the nation’s peanut supply, ” she said.

“Plus, Booker T. Washington, the first African American to found a historically black college and whose model of ‘self reliance, excellence, innovation and going as far as one can with their education’ served as a platform for Tuskegee University,” she said.

“And then, think about how the simple folk song, ‘We Shall Overcome,’ has been used to launch revolutions,” she said.

“So, when you hear about how Alabama affects the whole world, be proud to be from Alabama,” she said.

Following a brief introduction of why Black History month is celebrated, also heard Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which was recited from memory by Baylee Robertson.

Music was provided by the AMS band, as well as a special singing performance by Jamaal Curry.