A Black Excellence non-profit event drew a crowd of about 150 visitors in Courtland on a hot Saturday this past weekend.
The event, hosted by NAACP Lawrence County Chapter member Kira Pride, was organized to spread positivity in the community after weeks of global protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis Police in May.
The non-profit event featured about 20 vendors representing black and minority businesses in Lawrence County, but Pride said the event was also about encouraging voter participation in upcoming elections.
“We want to encourage everyone to get out and vote in November, not just to wait until the presidential election. Make sure that we’re getting out each time the polls are open,” she said.
A voter registration booth was set up for the four-hour event, but Pride said most visitors were already registered.
“If I could gauge the age of the crowd, I’d say they were around 40 to 50 years old, mostly. There were some 30-something–year-olds there, but for the most part, those people were all already registered,” she said.
She said Pastor Jan Turnbore, who also serves as the president of the Lawrence NAACP Chapter, worked the booth and accepted a few new members into the NAACP district as he handed out literature stressing the importance of voting.
“I think a lot of times we get caught up in the presidential election. Although the president is the head of the United States, you know, we have other leaders who carry a lot of weight,” Pride added. “I think it’s important that we get out and vote, especially that we vote locally. The election for mayors is coming up this August, too.”
Pride said she hopes to see the event return annually in celebration of Juneteenth, a U.S. holiday that commemorates the abolishment of slavery on June 19, 1865. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in January of 1863, it was not enforced nationwide until after the Civil War had ended.
“I’m just going to let the wind take it and see what happens, but I would like to make this an annual Juneteenth event, and I would love to see the event grow into something bigger,” Pride said. “It was just really a positive movement. Everybody who came bought from the vendors, so they were able to make a little money. It was very hot, but it went very well.”