‘I am Black and I’m proud’: Celebrating Black history in Augusta

From Jessye Norman to Lucy C. Laney, Augusta is rich in Black history.
Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 5:38 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - From Jessye Norman to Lucy C. Laney, Augusta is rich in Black history.

The community came together to celebrate local legends you’ve heard of and some you might not have heard about.

“I have been a part of the Augusta community for more than 50 years. I grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. Was born in Prosperity, South Carolina, a little rule place where the Jim Crow Law was highly recommended there,” said Sarah Townsend.

For Townsend, a celebration like this with singing and dancing was something she couldn’t do 50 years ago.

“We couldn’t go to the lunch counter. You couldn’t go and buy an ice cream sandwich. And sometimes they would let you come around to the back door to get that ice cream sandwich,” she said.

It’s a reminder of just how far they’ve come.

“It’s just important for us to know about Black history, where we as Black people came from, what the struggle was for us. There’s no way for us to sugarcoat it,” she said.

Townsend says her connection with James Brown reminds her how he made a mark on the world and Augusta one day at a time.

“James Brown grew up mostly like I did,” she said. “You look back to some of the things he says, I am Black and I’m proud.”

Maurice McDowell says that the entire point of the event was remembrance and growth.

“This means everything to me. I stand on the shoulders of all those that came before me. The community that came before me. They are the pillars. They are the bedrock of everything for partial recreation, everything for the city of Augusta. I don’t take that lightly,” said McDowell.