Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

On Campus

February 22, 2012

Standing together

AMERICUS — Chief Deputy Eric D. Bryant delivered an enthusiastic message of “unity and self determination” Tuesday at a program celebrating African-American History Month held at the John M. Pope Industrial Technology Center on the campus of South Georgia Technical College (SGTC).

“Celebrating the life and legacies of all African Americans all over the world but never forgetting those that have passed on but honoring their lives as well” was the significance of the occasion, Bryant said.

Bryant said individual African Americans have the opportunity to create their own “positive history,” that may not end up in newsletters or on television, but has true meaning and carries a legacy all its own.

“We too can climb mountains,” Bryant said, reiterating the message of Martin Luther King Jr. and referring back to the program’s themes.

“It’s about coming together, helping, and encouraging one another,” he said. “Through unity and being together, how easy our accomplishments may become,” he asserted.

Bryant said “right now” is an important time in lives of African Americans.

“What are you doing in your life to make history?” he asked.

The notion of creating “positive history,” Bryant explained, not only propels individuals forward but provides encouragement to others as a positive example.

“I’m excited to know we all can work together in making our own history and the difference in the lives of the others,” he said.

Bryant’s message also addressed personal responsibility. He said making a difference and effecting positive change begins with the individual.

“All you need is to be determined, all by yourself,” Bryant said, warning against dependence on material wealth and approval from others. “When you stand, you’ll notice that others will start to stand ... ladies and gentlemen that’s unity — everybody standing together for the same common goal.”

Bryant said encouragement is needed to help young people accomplish their goals and noted that he was proud of his position as chief deputy at the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, having grown up in the county on the “north side of Plains.” His position was attainable by anyone who wanted it Bryant told the audience full of SGTC students, faculty and staff as well as  special guests.

Michele Seay, SGTC psychology/general education instructor, presided over the program. SGTC accounting student and Phi Beta Lambda President Sandy Price provided the invocation. Sumter Primary School second-grade students, led by Becky Kerlin, sang two uplifting vocal selections and SGTC practical nursing graduate Freddie Mann performed “How I Got Over” vocally and on the piano.

Larry Stephens, SGTC air conditioning technology student, provided an uplifting reading of a poem about African-American history, and SGTC business administrative technology graduate Dorothy Wilcher provided the occasion for the program. The Rev. Paul McFarland of First Salem Baptist Church in Montezuma closed the program with the benediction.

The African-American History Program is an annual event at SGTC honoring Black History Month. Past featured speakers for the program have included: the Rev. Sherryl Sneed, ordained Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and pastor of Peter’s Chapel A.M.E. Church in Columbus; Daniel Simmons, pastor of Mt. Zion Church in Albany; Millard Fuller, founder of the Fuller Center for Housing in Americus and Habitat for Humanity International; Karla Heath-Sands of WALB-TV; members of the Tuskegee Airmen group; and the late Marvin Farrell Wilson, a provider relations consultant for the Southwest Georgia Healthcare Association at Sumter Regional Hospital.

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