A vibrant community gathering, displays celebrate Black History Month at the Senior Resource Center in rural Virginia Beach

Rita Jones organized a program held to celebrate Black History Month on Friday, Feb., 28, at the Senior Resource Center, Inc., in Creeds. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]


CREEDS — Creeds native and writer Rita Jones sees humanity as a single patchwork quilt that’s sewn from many threads, and she developed this vision into a program she coordinated for the Senior Resource Center, Inc., in rural Virginia Beach.

“One Quilt, Many Threads,” which included singing, dancing, and poetry reading, was performed on Friday, Feb. 28, in observance of Black History Month.  The program was set against a backdrop that included an exhibit of quilts, newspaper clippings, and other artifacts that were visited at the center by people throughout February. The display included a Christmas tree that was decorated with spools of thread to signify the people that, collectively, Jones sees as a quilt that depicts diversity and unity.

Jones said that the idea for this program came to her a year ago, and she decided that the theme would fit well into a Black History Month celebration.

“We all are one together,” Jones said. “One can’t do without the other, and we are diverse, but we all have a common thread.”

Performers during the Feb. 28 event included students from Creeds Elementary School, dancers from Little Piney Grove Baptist Church and local poets.

Voices of Expression, a singing group from Creeds Elementary under the leadership of teacher Robyn Alexander, sang songs in praise of Martin Luther King, and some students drummed on the tobano drum, an instrument about two feet high that’s played with the hands.

Praise dancers from Little Piney Grove Baptist Church celebrated African and African-American culture in a stirring dance that featured Faye Gallop, Sharne Glenn and Vanessa Bell-Spence.

The dance was choreographed to depict an African theme, said Gallop, and they wore clothes showing brightly-colored styles.

The newspaper clippings and other literature on the walls depicted the accomplishments of famous African Americans, including athletes, civil rights leaders and, of course, a recent president. The program and displays also focused on family and local culture.

Poet Mary Dotson read her own work, “Grandmamma,” which was inspired by her experiences growing up in the era of segregation. The poem reflected the conversation between a grandmother and her grandchild,  who questioned “White Only” and “Colored Only” signs in a waiting area, and asked whether she could play with two little white girls nearby. After trying to hush the child, the grandmother finally whispered that the signs reflected the law, but that someday the situation would change.

Quilts, some of which were family heirlooms, were displayed on the walls, and Jones said that the program was inspired by her own childhood memories of the quilts that were made by her mother, Alice Mildred Hoggard.  

“Those quilts did more than keep us warm, they kept us together,” Jones said. “If you were sick, your parents would lay the quilt on you, and it was so heavy that there was no need to tuck you in, and so warm that when you woke up the next morning you felt better. Then I learned that Obama had a quilt, and on one side it had 13 squares for the 13 original states and on the other side it had his inaugural address.”

About 75 people, many of  whom came from southern Virginia Beach and from local churches, attended the event. Jones said that she wanted to keep a local theme by featuring quilts by local families and performers from local schools and churches.

“This is all a neighborhood,” Jones said.

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