Sidney Gustafson (center) read a poem "Rosenwald (A Children‘s Song)" written by Carla Wilson Avery (right)

Sidney Gustafson (center) read a poem "Rosenwald (A Children‘s Song)" written by Carla Wilson Avery (right) at last Sunday's Juneteenth Celebration. Also pictured is Randy Lytle (left). (Courtesy photo by Nicola Karesh)

Coming down the mountain from the upper part of Transylvania County, the outside thermometer said 68 degrees. By the time the Juneteenth Celebration was under way last Sunday it was in the 70s. Mayor Maureen Copelof summed it up beautifully when she described it as a perfect day. It was. Thunderstorms and high heat behind us, we were treated to lovely temperatures and clear blue skies.

Impressions from the day…

The Juneteenth Celebration felt special. Before, during and after. I know that I was happy to be outdoors and back among friends but I imagine that it went beyond my own enjoyment. Everything seemed to strike a chord that felt right. It was reflected on other people’s faces. It was good to see the diverse gathering of people sitting under the tents and on benches under the shady trees, to watch the antics of the youngsters playing on the basketball court and in the water in the street coming from the fire hoses.

Randy Lytle and Victor Foster laid down a foundation that was so welcoming. Everyone and everything that followed just seemed to add more strength and positivity.

Of course, a proclamation coming from an official already has a sense of importance to it, but I swear when the mayor concluded her Juneteenth Proclamation, the word sacred came to mind.

Carla Wilson Avery’s poem, “Rosenwald”, read by her daughter Sidney was so poignant and touching. She was our third place winner in the adult category for the MCJCC Black History Poetry Contest this year and was awarded an honorable mention.

We wanted her to share it at a special event and Sunday was it. I know with every fibre of my being that her mother Agnes Wilson, a Rosenwald alumna, would have been delighted and oh so proud!

I loved that Rev. Dr. Holder talked about praying for those who had harmed others, particularly because of gun violence. Seeing our new MCJCC director in person, in positive gear with a smile on his face, was its own reward.

The song that we sang together, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” was rewarding and uniting. The moment that followed became fun when we, the audience, couldn’t quite master the song “We’ve Come This Far By Faith” the way it was meant to sound. Holder came back up to the microphone to sing it how it was intended. She led us beautifully and we followed.

Another memorable moment was when Lewis Whiteside, Jr. introduced our guest speaker and his father, Lewis Whiteside, Sr. Both messages were inspiring. Perfect for Juneteenth and perfect for Father’s Day.

The food was delicious. No complaints about a thing. Everything went smoothly and professionally as did the basketball tournament to follow. Pictures will be posted soon on social media.

The music by Sohcahtoa made me long for a hammock to just while the afternoon away. While I didn’t have the hammock, I was content to sway in my seat! Three young men, Kenyon Galloway, Michael Prey and Cyril Foster, played like they were seasoned musicians who’d been together for decades. They were amazing really. Their style was a mix of progressive-rock, jazz and funk.

In other news, for those of you who may be interested in co-ed aerobics or martial arts lessons (private, semi-private or open) you can reach out to Malford Jeter, Jr. at (828) 230-4832. Lessons will be held at the Bethel “A” Baptist Church.

I will leave you until the next time with Carla’s poem.

Rosenwald (A Children’s Song)

By Carla Wilson Avery

Our hills rang when children played,

When children laughed,

When children sang.

“Down, down baby,

Down by the roller coaster…“

The mammoth–like stone building

Atop the hill awakened with Miss Mills.

The children learned.

The children left.

The hulking rock behemoth no longer dreams.

“Sweet, sweet baby,

I’ll never let you go…”

The children learned; some returned.

Nicky? So proud of you.

Lois, Linda and Sheila received our young.

Eloise, Gwen, where did you go?

Sissy? Sing for us, again..

“Jimmy, Jimmy Cocoa–Pop!

Jimmy, Jimmy Pop!”

Remember Double-Dutch on the playground.

Remember new bikes for Christmas.

Remember the heel-to-toe heartbeat thumping in Bethel on Sunday mornings.

Remember Hot weenies and fireball candy at Mr. Sherman’s store!

“I looked down the street,

And what did I see?”

Change has come and revealed its two

Faces of life and death.

Our empty, ramshackle yesterdays,

Now squared against fresh siding, concrete and neighbors whose dreams are only

Whispers away.

“I saw a Chubby Checker

Tryin’ to outtwist me.”

Bright, young faces with toothy, big grins wear afros and beautiful locks, bobbing their heads to the bass in their ears.

The sleeping giant yet lives, though, seemingly forgotten and greatly unsung. Perhaps, someday, ours may hear a siren call beckoning their triumphant homecomings, bringing their young to rouse the remnants of remembrance..

“He twisted up and down and all around.

He twisted up and down and all around…”



Newsworthy items for Rosenwald Community News are welcomed from community members, churches, clubs and groups. If you have an idea for a story or interview for me to capture, please contact Nicola Karesh at or (828) 421-8615.

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