It was an evening of celebration filled with Afro-American Culture, excitement and emotion as HOLLA! had its annual Evening of Culture Celebration at the Ansonia Theatre in Wadesboro.
The event was hosted by Miss Amanda McCoy, the reigning Miss Black USA. McCoy set the initial tone of the program with her original, award-winning monologue on the right to vote. From that point on, the audience experienced an evening of excellent entertainment and valuable cultural and historical information.
“We use this night to celebrate our rich history, as well as to pay tribute to those who have paved the road to freedom and opportunity for the rest of us,” said Kimberly Harrington, HOLLA! board member. Harrington presented A Tribute to Mandela, an impressive and moving tribute to Nelson Mandela during the program, which included actual pictures and interviews from her recent visit to South Africa.
One of the highlights of the evening was the presentation of the HOLLA! Community Impact Award. It was awarded to M.R. Bell posthumously for her dedication to education and her service to the community. Two of her children, Attorney Asa Bell Jr. and Norvita Bell, were present to receive the award.
HOLLA! also announced the initiation of the M.R. Bell Excellence in Achievement Scholarship. The scholarship, which is funded by the Bell Family, will award two $500 scholarships annually to students who exemplify the character of M.R. Bell. The scholarship has a 3.0 GPA requirement. “Thankful for Mr. Leon Gatewood and all those who serve within this wonderful organization! May God continue to bless the works of your hands,” said Norvita Bell
HOLLA! used the evening to present awards to several people they consider to be “heroes” of the organization. The list included: The HOLLA! Board of Directors, Linda Hyatt, Linda Gatewood, Tamara Garris, Johnie Pettiford, Sue Newton, Weaver Knotts Thomas, Joletha Felder, Debra Rosebud, Alex Gaddy, Marilyn Bennett, Winnie Bennett and Ginger Sturdivant. “These people have carried the weight of this organization on their shoulders this year,” said Subrina Hough, programs director for the organization. The recipients were serenaded to the tune of “Hero,” by Jazz Recording Artist Connie McCoy Rogers, who is the mother of Miss Black USA, Amanda McCoy.
NAACP HKonJ (Historic Thousands on Jones Street) coordinator, Minister Curtis E. Gatewood, gave a powerful charge to the group. “We must continue to stand up for what we know is right, we must continue to champion for the children and the less fortunate,” he said.
The program ended with music from the local band, The Mix. “Thanks to all who made this program successful, including the Anson County Arts Council for co-sponsoring this event,” said Leon Gatewood. “Our village is coming together, which will make things better for us all. And because of that, I am thankful.”