I can truly sing, “Oh, what a night!” right about now!
I expected to travel to Hilton Head to celebrate with the Bluffton-Hilton Head MLK Observance Committee and the Gullah/Geechee Famlee at the “2nd Annual Black Excellence Ball” and embrace Dr. Amir Jamal Toure for receiving the “Social Justice Award” and Mr. Thomas Barnwell, who is a former board member for Penn Center, Inc., for receiving the “Lifetime Achievement Award.” I did not expect to not only receive my award, but also to scream at the top of my lungs when the “Penn Center Heritage Days Celebration” won the “Best Community Event Award.”
I wasn’t screaming drylongso. Mr. Emory S. Campbell who was the Director of Penn Center, Inc. for 30 years presented me with the “Gullah/Geechee Gatekeeper Award” which bears his name and he told the entire audience a bit more than I would have wanted him to tell the public. He went all the way back to the first Heritage Days Celebration and how when a call was put out for young people to participate and perform, I was the ONLY one that showed up. He and I always tell folks that we do as the song says, “We go a long way back!”
Not long after the audience applauded this story and I took my walk back to my table holding a treasure from my home folks, they started to announce the various other categories that people voted for. One of which was “Best Community Event.” I had almost forgotten that I was one of the folks that nominated the “Penn Center Heritage Days Celebration” when I looked up on the screen and saw it there on the list of four finalists. I waited with bated breath for the winner. Then “Penn Center Heritage Days Celebration” came on the screen and I screamed, “YES!!!!”
I looked around the room for who was there to receive this tremendous award and Mr. Campbell was looking across the table at me. I raised my hand and told them. “I am an Advisory Board member! I’ll take it!” The audience applauded as I did a shout on my way up front!
I was honored to receive this award on behalf of the Penn Heritage Days Committee because they worked extremely hard to keep the event going. I was honored with being the MC for the first time last year after my many years with the event and after all the many roles I’ve played with it including co-chairing it for 3 years some time back. Disya da mi fess fa tru! As I rose, I heard Mr. Campbell say, “This is very appropriate.” I knew he was speaking about not only the win, but that I would be the one to take the award back to the island. Disya fa all de St. Helena Famlee and all de Penn folks fa tru!
I will ALWAYS have love for the Heritage Days Celebration and that is why we are hosting the “Gullah/Geechee Black Gold Ball”at historic Penn Center Inc. on Friday, February 28, 2020 at 7 pm to raise funds for the 2020 Penn Center Heritage Days Celebration which will take place the second weekend of November. I pray that you will come out and support this celebration of Gullah/Geechee Black Gold and our Black history legacy.