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Roanoke celebrates Black History Month

Despite the liquid sunshine Saturday’s annual Black History parade in Roanoke, sponsored by ACCOM, was a huge success. Crowds gathered to meet and greet the grand marshals, wrestling greats Thunderbolt Patterson and Abdullah the Butcher at Bridging the Gap Community Services.

The celebration continued across town at Saturday’s Mardi Gras festival on LaFayette Highway. Both the parade and the festival were well attended despite the wet weather.

Earlier last week at Handley High School the Graphic Design Department ended Black History Month with a creative twist. Students signed up for a blind “Walk a Mile in my Shoes” Black History Experience, which led to a profound lesson in character building, not judging others, getting to know others, and inevitably walking a mile in someone else’ s shoes.

Students were shocked upon arrival to learn that they would have to exchange shoes with a random person. Students were then given a list of questions and topics to discuss with their partner as they walked a mile.

Once the experience was over students gathered for a pizza party to discuss their experiences. Some of the highlights included statements such as, “I got to know him/her and they were so cool,” or ”I’ll never judge anyone again,” or “I learned that it’s hard to walk in someone else’s shoes,” or “I’m grateful for today and this experience,” and, of course, “I was just glad to get my shoes back.”

When asked why she created this experience, Graphic Arts Instructor Kaprice Smith stated, “I wanted them to understand why it is important to keep moving even when it’s weird, hard, hurtful, uncomfortable, and scary. It is my hope that through this experience they learned why we simply can’t judge others because at any given moment we could be faced with the task of ‘walking in their shoes.’”

Krystle Bell Saulsberry, umbrella in hand, marches in the Roanoke Black History parade on Main Street Saturday. Saulsberry is the daughter of former long-time Roanoke City Council member Mack Arthur Bell and a graduate of Handley High School.

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