Love And History – Two Of My Favorite Things!

Everyone knows Valentine’s Day is in February. For some, it slips up on them, but for the most part, they can still run out and pick up a beautiful heart shaped box of delectable chocolates and find a romantic card. If they are really running late, they might even get an exquisite piece of jewelry. It seems the closer to the day (or hour), the more guilt there is and the better the gift!

Here is a way you can escape the “Honey I’ve been so busy,” or “It just comes too close after Christmas for me to remember everything” excuses. Athens Main Street vendors will be having their Chocolate Walk on February 11th in downtown Athens, where you can go as a couple for a wonderful night. You do purchase a $5 ticket to participate, however the enjoyment of going to each merchant to receive a scrumptious chocolate delight until you fill your box will be a new experience!

Make sure you go to our new Lucia’s or LuVici’s for a romantic dinner, or to Village Pizza to see what they have on the menu to tempt your palate and then show off your collection of tasty bonbons later while you are still out!

But did you know February is also Black History Month?

Black History Month is an annual observance in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom whose purpose is the remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It is celebrated each February in the United States and Canada, and in October in the United Kingdom.

The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1915 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.” This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14, both of which dates black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century.

In Limestone County, we have a rich black history heritage. In 2015, Trinity School was revitalized and opened as the Pincham-Lincoln Community Center. The center is part of Trinity School, Limestone County’s only all-black high school until the Limestone County School System was ordered by a federal judge to integrate in 1970 or face $3,000 a day fine for each day the system remained segregated.

As described on the Fort Henderson National Historic Preservation sign, the site served as a Union Civil War fort called Fort Henderson (built in 1863) and was situated on Coleman Hill. It was “a five-sided earthen fort with some frame buildings and underground “bomb-proofs.” Abatis (a defensive obstacle formed by felled, sharpened trees) lined the 15-foot deep perimeter ditch, a small portion of which is still visible today.” It was here that runaway slaves fought and were captured by Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

After the war, missionary Mary Fletcher Wells established Trinity to educate former slaves. The school educated black students from 1930 through the 1970s and was the first school in the northern half of the state to provide kindergarten instruction for blacks. Among its most prominent students was world renowned singer Patti Malone. The school served the community until integration, and then fell into disrepair.

The Athens-Limestone Community Association started an effort to save the remaining part of the fort and some of the school. The City of Athens obtained a $290,000 Community Development Block Grant from ADECA to build the Pincham-Lincoln Community Center to serve the community with educational, cultural, and other programs.

ALCA raised the match money and secured $25,000 from Athens-Limestone County Tourism to save the old band room from being destroyed. It will eventually become a museum and archives facility for the site.

The project received support from other various facets of the community from Trinity staff and students, City of Athens, Limestone County Commission, the Limestone County Legislative Delegation, Athens Rotary, NAACP, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Resource Conservation and Development Council, and many others.

To read more on Trinity School and Fort Henderson, you can purchase “Holding the Fort” by Charlotte Fulton at the Athens-Limestone County Tourism office, 100 N. Beaty Street, Athens, AL 35611 for $40. There is a $7 shipping & handling fee to have it mailed.
By: Teresa Todd, President, Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association