Next-generation: Portsmouth community center celebrates unity

Black History Month

PORTSMOUTH, OH (WOWK) – In Portsmouth, Ohio, residents young and old are taking a look back at the past, comparing it to today, and looking toward the future.

The history of African Americans in the Portsmouth area going back to the 1800s has not been forgotten. The 14th Street Community Center is bringing in people of all ages to make sure they understand the past in order to move into the future.

That is our main thought, we service everybody.

Carlton Cave, 14th Street Community Center treasurer

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the area youth as well as other area residents put on a show of skits celebrating Dr. King’s message.

A big part of the process is understanding the history that led to society as we know it today. Portsmouth resident Dontavian Parker says while he’s been at the center they learn that “African-Americans had to march for their freedom.”

The children at the center learn about many significant events, such as the end of segregation in the 1960s. Many say even though they weren’t present when the events happened, it’s still heartbreaking to think about.

I feel bad because of that. It was never right to do that in the first place – they do call it the United States. We should be together.

Dontavian Parker, Portsmouth resident

While many believe society has changed throughout the years, those who remember events during the civil rights movement say some things remain the same. The community center Treasurer Cartlon Cave says teaching the younger generation will help progress to a better tomorrow.

We have to continue to get the younger people to be awoke to what is happening. Thinking that racism has died, racism has not died.

Carlton Cave, 14th Street Community Center treasurer

Events over the past year brought attention to issues such as police brutality and the mistreatment of minorities and the financial disparity among those of different races. The big question is “What does the younger generation think about all of this?”

Parker says he does not “like what’s happening.” Makiae Sayles says “like how all the states are united, black and white should be united.”

Residents in the city are taking the step forward, not just with the resources available at the community center, but also through initiatives like the “Unity Project.”

The Portsmouth “Unity Project” was organized to build a sense of togetherness in the community. Group members have already installed art projects around the city in an attempt to bring about unity in troubling times.

For more information on the community center, click here.

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