Editorial: Storied history of cooperation should inspire

Editorial: Storied history  of cooperation should inspire
June 22
05:05 2017

Juneteenth is held on or around June 19, when Union forces arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news of the end of slavery on June 19, 1865. Juneteenth is normally known as a large festive celebration, filled with food and entertainment as well as black history and culture.

In Winston-Salem, the celebration occurred Saturday, June 17, in the Innovation Quarter. The historical edification came on Thursday, June 15, with the annual luncheon at Old Salem Visitor Center. The luncheon this year featured speakers on a shared history upon the 195th anniversary of St. Philips Moravian Church and the 125th anniversary of Winston-Salem State University. Speakers presented the link between them.

One way the link was highlighted was when it was mentioned that the Rev. Cedric Rodney, pastor of St. Philips, had taught at what is now WSSU.

We should not be surprised that the two are linked, for they represent two stalwart areas of the black community: Religion and Education. Simon Green Atkins, who founded Slater, the forerunner of WSSU; Dr. George Hall, a pastor of St. Philips; and Rev. Rodney, another pastor of St. Philips, were instrumental in forging relationships that helped keep the other going.

What could be surprising is that both the church building and the school both remain, although not in their original forms. Both have survived to continue to be vital institutions in 2017.

But they did not survive by accident. Atkins, Hall and Rodney worked to keep their institutions alive. Others rose up after they died.

But how long will the institutions remain alive? No doubt age is taking its toll on the church building, which is used every fifth Sunday for services. Outside forces are taking shots at WSSU all the time, including those who control much-needed funds.

Rodney was considered a bridge builder, a man who upheld the ethics of the Moravian Church, stressing the importance of community and cooperation rather than competition.

Who will be the Rev. Cedric Rodney of the 21st century, fighting to keep history alive? One person who appeared to be on that track is no longer with us, but was honored posthumously on Thursday. The late County Commissioner Walter Marshall, along with Michelle McCullough, project planner for the City of Winston-Salem, and Dr. English Bradshaw, author and educator, received the 2017 St. Philips Cedric S. Rodney Unity Award.

Winston-Salem itself has survived as generations build upon generations. People have stepped up to keep history going.

The question becomes, however, will the younger generation think this history is important enough to keep? Let us hope so.

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WS Chronicle

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