HENDRY COUNTY – Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month, an annual celebration of the contributions African Americans have made throughout history, and a time to reflect on the continued struggle and need for racial justice.
Local Black history ranges from the painful memories of a tragic, torturous murder by lynching, of Henry Patterson, near the Hendry County Courthouse in LaBelle, to the powerful and heartwarming stories surrounding the teacher of the first and only school for Black children in Hendry County, Selma Daniels, and all of the challenges and struggles in between, including when the time of integration finally came.
The theme of this year’s Black History Month is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity,” chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. While celebrating Black History Month may look at bit different this year, due to the pandemic, luckily Hendry County has quite a few knowledgeable long-time residents and active community leaders, like Reverend Gwen Patrick-Griffiths, the founder of the Brown Sugar Festival, Janet Taylor a former Hendry County Commissioner and President of Glades Lives Matters, Dorothy Johnson, Nora Ned. There are even some local historians like Theresa Proverb, Joe Thomas, and newcomer Brandon Jett, to help tell the stories and organize the facts of the past. Plans to bend their ears and feature stories from these fountains of knowledge over the next month, are afoot.