West speech, students’ talent highlight NHS black history program

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; Everything about the situation Natchez High School students witnessed Wednesday morning embodied the spirit of Black History Month.

At 9 a.m. the entire student body gathered in the gym for the annual Black History Program, featuring speaker Mayor Phillip West, who pointed out that the whole scenario would’ve been impossible when he was in school.

&uot;I’m from a time and place where this high school didn’t allow a person of my race to be in this school,&uot; West said. &uot;I’m from that time when you went to the water fountain and there was a sign that said whites only and coloreds only.&uot;

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West told the students black history celebrations like theirs were much smaller and limited to only a week when he was in school.

&uot;We are a long way from where we were to where we are today,&uot; West said. &uot;I could not dream when I was your age that a person who looked like me would actually become the mayor of the City of Natchez.

&uot;As young people in Natchez you have a better future, better opportunities.&uot;

West said socioeconomic background no longer mattered and that there were always people willing to help.

&uot;It’s not where you come from that matters anymore, it’s where you are trying to go.&uot;

West also told the students he and fellow city leaders were working hard to develop more recreation opportunities and jobs for the students who stay in Natchez to work.

The program also included performances by the NHS choir, band and dance team.

Program chairperson, senior Ashleigh Irving told West that the student body would accept his challenges.

&uot;We cannot forget and we will not forget the sacrifices that have been made by our ancestors to ensure the opportunities we now enjoy,&uot; Irving said. &uot;The students of NHS will continue the positive legacy that has been set before us.&uot;