The celebration, now scheduled for March 1 from 4 to 6 p.m. will feature food, music, dancing, poetry, keynote speakers and more at Smith-Barnes Elementary School which, said Thomas, is an important part of the city’s black history.
“Smith-Barnes was built in the 1950’s based on an initiative started by Booker T. Washington to provide schools for lower incoming, black neighborhoods,” Thomas said.
The school was named after Lenard Smith, a prominent, black leader in the community at that time who donated about six acres of the land the school was built on and its first principal, Rena Barnes.
Although the Henry County Board of Education considered re-zoning the school, community response helped to keep it intact.
Thomas, who attended the school himself, said “honoring Smith-Barnes Elementary school is fitting this year because of the historical nature of the building as well as the academic success and achievement that goes on every day.”
And, said Thomas, it is important to keep educating younger generations about history at a local level.
Last year, about 300 residents attended and Thomas said he hopes to see even more participants this year.
“I want to encourage all citizens to come out,” he said. “This is an open event for everyone and the purpose is to gain knowledge and information, but also to enjoy each other and have fun as well.”
The school is at 147 Tye St.