Sunny skies greet African-American history celebration

Henry and Mary Brown had a food booth featuring fresh sweet potato pie and flounder. Photo available for purchase

Henry and Mary Brown had a food booth featuring fresh sweet potato pie and flounder.

David Adlerstein
Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:38 PM.

One of the first warm and sunny days of the season greeted the 11th annual African-American History Celebration Saturday, as Franklin Square came alive with festivity.

Retired Chapman Elementary School teacher Lorine Banks served as grand marshal of the annual parade Saturday morning, a traditionally spirited, modest affair that precedes the Saturday morning ribbon cutting.

Clerk of Courts Marcia Johnson and Property Appraiser Rhonda Skipper represented county officials in the parade, which featured plenty of beads thrown from the cars and golf carts but less candy than typically is flung.

The mood was sweet and upbeat though, even when organizers had to “figuratively cut the ribbon” on the festival from the main stage at 11 a.m.

Covenant Word Pastor David Walker offered a blessing over the festival, followed by a collective rendition by a chorus of members of H’COLA of “Lift Evry Voice and Sing,” considered the Negro National Anthem.

The non-profit community action group H’COLA, which stands for Hillside Coalition of Laborers for Apalachicola, has been the force behind the festival for the past 11 years, held the third weekend in February, to celebrate the contributions to society made by both national and local African-Americans.

Van Johnson, the city’s first African-American mayor, offered a welcome that touched on the larger issues of civil rights in the nation’s history.

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