KIMBALL, WV – The melodies of the Negro National Anthem,” Lift Every Voice and Sing” drifted from the gymnasium of Kimball Elementary School in celebration of Black History Month. Staff, volunteers, foster grandparents, and students joined to sing the Anthem during the opening of the program. The program featured three local community members who all share ties to Kimball Elementary school.
Ruth Brown opened the program with a video depicting famous African Americans from A-Z throughout history. She paid tribute to Carter G. Woodson, a former West Virginia coal miner and the father of Black History celebrations, and Katherine Johnson, who was also a West Virginia native and a NASA employee who assisted astronauts in space flights.
Mrs. Brown mentioned Woodson’s passion for reading and Johnson’s love for math. She discussed Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of equality and freedom. Mrs. Brown concluded with a poem, “The Creation” by James Weldon Johnson. Mrs. Brown is a substitute teacher at Kimball Elementary School and a retired Radiology Manager at Welch Community Hospital. Her children attended Kimball Elementary, and her husband Kenneth Brown is the coach of the 8- season undefeated basketball team.
The second speaker Tracy Gravely spoke to the students about his experience as a former student at Kimball Elementary School and the teachers that inspired and motivated him. He also mentioned his involvement in sports and the encouragement he received from coaches. He thanked coach Harold Smith for his inspiration and support. Mr. Gravely stressed the importance of academics and discipline. He visited each classroom and gave each student a signed football trading card.
Mr. Gravely is a Concord University graduate. He was the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference defensive player of the year in 1989. Mr. Gravely signed with the New York Giants and he went on to play football in Canada. He coached football at Concord University. He displayed rings from his football career, including a New York Giants Superbowl ring.
The final speaker, Harold Smith spoke to the students about the many accomplishments of African Americans throughout history. He talked to the students about his experience of attending school during the period of segregation.
Mr. Smith stressed the importance of including Black History as an important part of American History. He shared his experience as an athlete, teacher, and coach. Mr. Smith was inducted in the McDowell County Sports Hall of Fame in 2017 as both a player and coach. He was a quarterback for Gary District High School and
Bluefield State College. He coached sports in McDowell County for over 50 years. His children attended Kimball Elementary School, and he now shares in the activities of his grandchildren as students of Kimball Elementary