LaGrange High’s Black history program returns for 25th year

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, May 17, 2023

On May 20, LaGrange High School’s annual Black History Program returns for its 25th year.

“Normally, the show is in February or March, but we didn’t know if we’d be able to have the show this year at all because of issues with finding a suitable venue and student participation,” said Program Director Adrianne Redding.

“Since COVID, I think people have just been more reserved to be a part of things like big production. I wasn’t sure if the student involvement would be there, but they still wanted to do it, and we were able to get it done.”

The show will take place at Callaway Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Saturday and at 4 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets can be bought online or at the door for $8.

The longstanding Black History Program was initially created in 1998 by former LHS principal and assistant principal Kenneth Redding.

“It started as something my sisters, and I did with our father as a cultural experience that has skyrocketed into what it is today,” Redding said.

Redding said her father led the program every year until he retired in 2016. After he retired, she took up the mantle and has been leading the program since 2017.

She said along with the show being about Black history it’s also a scholarship program.

“Since the program started, I think we’ve given away roughly over $100,000 in scholarships to help kids with college expenses, like tuition, room and board, laptops — just the essentials that they would need,” Redding said.

Every year the show has a different theme. In homage to the program’s sliver status, the theme of the program is called “Blue Print.”

“Because it’s the 25th year and it’s the seventh script that I’ve written, I’ve tried to revisit all the scripts I’ve written and the ones my dad has written. I’ve been trying to make it a celebration reminiscent of the 25 years that we have had the program,” Redding said. “There’ll be references and characters that were in the program when my dad was directing, including a solo from him called the ‘The Promise.’”

Redding said a big part of this year’s show is the inclusion of alumni of the program.

“We have alumni that have decided to come back and be a part of our legacy choir. Normally it’s students that are in it, but this year the alumni are going to come back and help us sing some songs,” Redding said. “Anytime we’re able to get alumni involvement in it’s always awesome because they get to tell stories about when they were in it, plus the kids that are in it this year get to see the legacy. A lot of the alumni got the scholarship when they were in the show. and they tell the kids that are in it now about how it was when they were it and what they were able to get from it.”

Joining the legacy choir this year is Troup County School Board Member Kevin Dunn.

“I’m honored to serve and be a part of such a prestigious event that’s been around for so many years,” Dunn said. “This event is such a win in so many ways because it gives students the opportunity to learn more about Black history, have the chance to receive a scholarship and gives them the ability to showcase the many talents they have.”

To celebrate 25 years, Redding said it feels like a huge accomplishment and an honor.

“There aren’t many things that can survive 25 years. There aren’t many shows or organizations that make it that far, but we’ve been able to make it because of the love that we have for the program, the arts and celebrating our history,” Redding said. “It feels like a labor of love like this is something that we should be proud of. I’m grateful that I was entrusted to take up the mantle and keep the legacy going.”

She said it’s important to continue the program because it’s essential to know the history of the people who have paved the way.

“When it was looking like we wouldn’t be able to have the show, I was very burdened by that because there are so many stories that need to be told. I want people to be able to see it because especially in this social climate that we’re in, it’s important that our stories are still being told,” Redding said.

“The legacy of the show is an extension of preserving our history. Our civil rights leaders back in the 50s and 60s fought and laid down their lives so that we would even have the opportunity to put on a production like this. As much as it is an accomplishment for the program to have made it to 25 years, it’s also a huge nod to and applause for those who gave us the opportunity in the first place.”