On May 4, Mount Airy experienced an extravaganza.
The African-American Historical and Genealogical Society of Surry County had an appreciative banquet, with multiple reasons behind the event.
First, to acknowledge Dr. Evelyn Scales Thompson for 18 years of service as president of the organization. Second, to give homage to the community for various activities the organization performed over the years. Neither of these items are more important than the others.
The crowd was bursting with enthusiasm, as the people in attendance viewed their ancestors, some peers, neighbors, family, and friends discussing the history of the black community approximately from the late 1800s to the 2000s. One of the noted presenters was an honorary guest soon to be 102.
The dining hall was decked in the organizational colors of blue and white. The table had blue and white decor, blue table clothes and white seating. The centerpieces accentuate the theme of the African-American Historical and Genealogical Society. There were mementos ancestors of those in the group used in their daily lives, such as shades, lamps, beaters, spoons, knives, forks, and utility knives.
Winnie Merritt shared how the organization began. The idea was hers, and Dr. Thompson picked up the ball and ran with it. As a result, three off-shoot projects occurred.
Edward McDaniels and his cousin published a pictorial book about life and time of J.J. Jones. He shared their research and how inspiring it was to find articles about Jones’ students. He gave an inspirational talk.
Next was Jean Tucker and three of her nieces, who enthused the audience about the restoration of their homeplace. What a spiritual journey she led the group on, sharing about how everything down to builders fell in place. This was another tear jerking account.
Finally, La-Shene Lowe told about 90,000 acres of farm land the African-American farmers once owned in Surry County. Nathaniel McArthur built a monument in memory of these farmers with placards of their names. The monument lies on his father’s, Mr. Robert McArthur, farm. She shared how many of the farmers’ lost their land because of an unfair tax, and hundreds of acres were lost down 89 East, Cain Road and Athey Simmons Road. She asked for people in the audience to share their stories about the 90,000 acres.
The aroma of the food made the speakers cut their presentations short. Joe Dodson, the caterer, provided a delicious meal. He had fish and baked chicken as the entree, with macaroni and cheese, potato salad, and green beans. Maggie Rosser added chicken pie as an entree and provided cake and pie for dessert. Dodson provided his special tea.
There were boards in the south corner of the room, decorated with events the organization has sponsored the past 18 years. These boards were trimmed in blue and white strippers. The exhibition table was covered with quilts made by the mothers of the members, Dr. Evelyn Thompson and Bobby Scales. La-Shene Lowe presented Dr. Evelyn Thompson with a certificate from her 18 years of service.