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Dr. King holiday speaker keeps focus on education

South Boston News
LIVELY KEYNOTE — Dr. Oliver W. Spencer, Superintendent of Brunswick County Public Schools, delivered the Freedom Fund banquet keynote and received a warm response during and after the speech. (Mike Moseley photo)

SoVaNow.com / January 22, 2014


The Mecklenburg County Chapter of the NAACP held its 29th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday/Freedom Fund Banquet on Monday night with Dr. Oliver W. Spencer, Superintendent of Brunswick County Public Schools, delivering the keynote address.

Spencer, who prefaced his remarks by noting he was speaking as a citizen, not as a school superintendent, went on to give a message that was enlightening, funny and thought-provoking.

The life-long educator spoke of growing up in a segregated society and picking cotton for a living when he was young.

Spencer told a capacity audience at the VFW Post 7166 in South Hill that while he doesn’t want to go back to those days, he is not shy talking about them — “because everybody comes from somewhere, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of were you come from.”

The Brunswick school chief said he was the man he is today because of what he had to go through growing up. He commented that he still keeps cotton in his office to remind him of how far he has ventured in life.

Oliver spoke to young people and told them they need to go to school armed — not with weapons, but with a thirst and desire for learning.

He also reminded people if they see a fellow brother or sister down on their luck and don’t try to help, they are as guilty as anyone else who chooses not to render aid.

“Somewhere along the way some of us got a little education, new cars and big houses and forgot where we came from. Don’t do that,” said Spencer.

He observed had it not been for the NAACP, he wouldn’t be speaking at the banquet and remembering the freedoms afforded to all through the organization’s work — and as a result of Dr. King’s legacy.

As an educator, Spencer observed that couldn’t stay away from the subject of education. He told his audience that parents and teachers should be working to make kids want to run to school — not run away from it. “Even a dog knows when you love and care about it,” he asserted.

At the end of Spencer’s remarks, he was given a standing ovation.

Several elected officials as well as members of other NAACP chapters in Southside Virginia came out to show their support of the organization.

The banquet also featured a remembrance ceremony to honor NAACP members who have passed on since the 2013 banquet.

The Mecklenburg County NAACP awarded a plaque to a local educator, Patricia (Pat) Watson of Clarksville, in appreciation for her work.

Watson said she humbled by the award and said she enjoyed her teaching experiences while with Mecklenburg County Public Schools.

“I enjoyed teaching here and love seeing my former students that have gone on to succeed in life,” Watson said. “I am truly humbled by the NAACP giving me this award and I thank them for this honor.

Organizers finished up with a raffle and awarded some nice prizes to cap off a night of praise and remembrance.



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