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African American Culture and Heritage Festival celebrates local, national history

By Staff | Aug 24, 2018

Following Saturday's African American Festival parade, folks gathered at the festival grounds to enjoy entertainment, food and fellowship. Photo by Toni Milbourne.

CHARLESTOWN — The Jefferson County NAACP played host once again to the 26th Annual African American Culture and Heritage Festival.

Chaired this year by George Rutherford, the event spanned three days and offered multiple events in which community members could participate.

The weekend kicked off with a gospel extravaganza held at the Betty Roper Auditorium at Wright Denny Intermediate School. Coinciding with the gospel event was a block party for youth held on the festival grounds. The party was sponsored by the Jefferson County NAACP Youth Council.

Rutherford said the youth council was instrumental in helping make the weekend a success. According to Rutherford, Youth Group Coordinator Lynn McDaniel is a potential leader moving forward in the county’s NAACP organization.

“Lynn hopes to fill my role,” said Rutherford, who has served as a leader for the group for many years.

“I know George’s shoes will be hard to fill,” McDaniel said Saturday. “Actually, I can put them on but I don’t know if I’ll ever fill them.”

The weekend event paid homage to the upcoming anniversary of the World War I Armistice. Organization members sported t-shirts recognizing three African American men from Jefferson County who served in the war. Edward Morgan, Matthew Mitchell and David Carey were all World War I veterans.

“David Carey was also in the Spanish American War,” Rutherford said, mentioning he had worked for Cary at one time. “I knew them all.”

On Saturday, the annual parade had entries ranging from local politicians and candidate hopefuls to current office-holders. Also included were motorcyclists who annually arrive to rev their engines, much to the delight of youngsters along the parade route. Local bands included both Washington and Jefferson high schools as well as a combined group of students from Charles Town, Wildwood, Harpers Ferry and Shepherdstown middle schools.

Following the parade, attendees made their way to the festival grounds to enjoy two different live bands, as well as other entertainment, throughout the afternoon and evening.

The festival concluded on Sunday with an 8 a.m. Niagara Movement Pilgrimage at the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, followed by an ecumenical service at the Freewill Baptist Church in Harpers Ferry.

The county’s NAACP group is open to individuals of all races. More information about the organization can be found at their website, www.jcwvnaacp.org.