On a weekend with so much historical significance, including the inauguration of our re-elected 44th president, Barack Obama, around the country, around the world, and yes, here in Rappahannock County, the 22nd annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. birthday observance kicked off at the Theatre at Washington on Jan. 20.
Event program director Nan Butler Roberts spoke about the coinciding of the celebration of two other historical events within this year: the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington led by Dr. King when he delivered his “I have a dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Roberts wondered aloud, “How historical is that?” Dr. King would have been 84 years old Jan. 15.
The celebration on Sunday afternoon featured a historical presentation by Taryn Weaver, who portrayed Harriet Tubman, a 19th century “she-ro,” an abolitionist and reformer during the Civil War. Weaver took the audience back in time to the 1860s, giving a crowd-pleasing performance using humor, Tubman’s personal stories and eyewitness accounts, and songs to bring Tubman to life.
Tubman and her Underground Railroad became known for leading more than 300 slaves from bondage to freedom and is considered a forerunner of King for her courage, fortitude and willingness to sacrifice herself for her people. Weaver recounted seizures that Tubman experienced, sometimes occurring when she was leading slaves to freedom. According to history, Weaver explained, Tubman had been hit in the head by a slave master earlier in life that caused the seizures to occur throughout the remainder of her life.
Music was provided by The Musical Blends, a three-piece combo led by Dr. Ellsworth Weaver on keyboard, husband of Taryn Weaver; a saxophonist, Conrad Porter; and local guitarist and favorite Rappahannock native, Bobby Glasker. Completing the celebration were three local students, Natalya White and Tatyana Yates, of RCES, and Cara Fisher, Eastern View High School, who read essays they composed about the significance of King’s life and legacy. Roberts announced that the students will receive certificates of participation and $25 gift cards.
Rev. Phil Bailey of the Washington Baptist Church served as program emcee. Mayor John Sullivan, school board chairman John Lesinski and County Administrator John McCarthy attended the event, along with other town and county officials.
The King birthday observance is sponsored each year by the Julia E. Boddie Scholarship Committee, hosted by the Theatre and co-sponsored the last three years by the Scrabble School Foundation. Donations are collected each year during the program for the scholarship and presented to a Rappahannock County graduating senior who wishes to further his or her education. Lillian Aylor is the president of the committee.
In September 2010, Trinity held a very special Haitian dinner to raise funds to help rebuild St. Marc’s Church and school in Trouin, Haiti after the devastating earthquake there. Since then, teams from Trinity – including Harold Beebout, Russ Collins, Rev. Jenks Hobson, Lorraine Duisit and Mary Frances Lemat – have gone to Haiti several times.
They helped with actual rebuilding of the school, provided medical help and got to know the people and their needs. Trinity has teamed up with other churches to help with teacher salaries and other needs of the school, but there are still many unmet goals, including sewing machines (sewing classes have none), cooking and sewing materials, computers, security grillwork, travel costs for Jenks and more.
Trinity’s second fundraising Haitian dinner is 5 p.m. Feb. 9. Proceeds help pay for the ongoing work, especially for Trinity’s next scheduled trip in May. The dinner is open to all and promises to be a colorful celebration of the best of Haiti, with music, handicrafts and art provided by Beverly Sullivan, who has long-time ties with Haitian art and crafts. They will also have a presentation of the work and needs in Haiti to date.
The menu includes hors d’oeuvres and Haitian punch; griots (glazed and braised pork, cooked outside by Sullivan); chicken with coconut; West Indian pumpkin soup; red beans and rice; sauce ti-malice (also prepared by Sullivan); sweet potato bread; coconut pudding and Haitian coffee (also for sale in bags).
Birthday wishes go out to Randall Updike; he’s celebrating his special day today (Jan. 31).
Sympathy goes out to Carol Miller and family upon the death of her husband, Newbill Miller. Newbill passed away on Saturday (Jan. 26).
A native of Rappahannock County, he served on the county planning commission and was the youngest member (and elected chairman) of the board of supervisors, was the mayor of Washington and served on town council. He was on the county zoning appeals board, a chief of the volunteer fire department, a board member of the Rappahannock Bank and president of the Virginia Angus Association and was on its board of directors. Newbill was a lifetime farmer at his Ginger Hill Farm in Washington.
I can remember seeing him at Baldwin’s Grocery often standing around talking about his farm or listening to the old timers talking. He would have a pack of Nabs and a Coke in his hand, enjoying them.
Newbill was a man of respect and honor, always out helping people in need. He had the gentle mien of a southern gentleman and cared deeply for this community.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. this Saturday (Feb. 2) at Trinity Episcopal Church. Everyone is invited afterwards to the family home at Ginger Hill.