As the Fuquay-Varina Chamber Choir belted out “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the African American National Anthem, on stage last Wednesday, the celebration of Black history filled the auditorium.
The Inspiring a New Generation step team performed as well as the Chosen Generation Gospel Choir.
Wake County School Board Chairmamn Keith Sutton gave the key note speech, highlighting the success of well-known African Americans as well as the groundwork laid locally.
James Denning, Larry Dockery, Cynthia Hicks, Carolyn Jones, Ted Jones, Iris Raines, William Ray and Jane Williams were the first African Americans to graduate from Fuquay-Varina High School in 1971 after integration took effect. Three students, including Constance Griffin, moved to FVHS in 1967 during voluntary integration.
It was those local heroes that paved the way for the diversity felt in FVHS today.
“We are evidence of the success of that journey,” Sutton said. “It’s not just a part of history. It’s an important part of our future.”
There’s still work to be done – there’s a long road to equal opportunity and it has to be accomplished by everyone.
“When it comes to closing the opportunity gap, there is no ‘us’ and no ‘them,’” he said.
National Achievers Society President of Parent Booster Club Regina Terry said everyone has been affected by the work of African Americans and can help close the gap.
“We all bring something to the table,” she said.
However, it’s important to stop, look back and appreciate the path paved by those who have gone before this generation.
“If you have the opportunity to see (the first African American graduates of FVCHS), meet them, say thank you,” Sutton said.
For former FVHS Dean of Students Phyllis McLeod, the event was a dream come true.
“We planted seeds while we were here and to see them still going, it just does good for my soul,” she said.
Contact Kelly Griffith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-552-5675.