First Friday Focuses on Rocky Mount History

Source: City Of Rocky Mount NC.
Source: City Of Rocky Mount NC.

Exhibit Highlighting Rocky Mount NC Visits from Dr. King and Dr. Booker T. Washington to open at First Friday

Released by Tameka Kenan-Norman, City of Rocky Mount

While First Friday will have its usual fanfare thanks to live music, planetarium and laser shows, the No Shame: Theater Open Mic, kids’ crafts, face painting, live music and more, First Friday on April 1, 2016 will also have a serious undertone as the Maria V. Howard Arts Center welcomes a new exhibit.

The grand opening of “Where the Dream Began: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Rocky Mount NC,” will be held at 7:30pm in the Arts Center, located on the second floor of the Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences, 270 Gay Street, in Rocky Mount NC.

“This exhibit explores the history of Rocky Mount and how its location at the intersection of major railways made it easy for people like Dr. Booker T. Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to visit,” says Alicyn Wiedrich, curator for the Maria V. Howard Arts Center. “It also shows the present day impact these men had on the city.”

King’s visit to Rocky Mount on November 27, 1962, gained national exposure when NC State University professor, Dr. Jason Miller, restored the audio of King’s speech. The speech was a precursor to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, later delivered at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. According to Wiedrich, Dr. Booker T. Washington, an educator, author and African American civil rights leader, visited Rocky Mount in 1910.

“Dr. Washington was here for an exceptionally small period of time,” states Wiedrich. “There was a parade leading up to his speaking engagement.”

The grand opening of the exhibit will include words from Miller. Guest speakers will be NC State Senator Angela Bryant and Joyce Dickens, president/CEO of the Rocky Mount/Edgecombe Community Development Corporation.

“Both of our speakers will talk about what it was like listening to Dr. King in 1962 and how it shaped who they are today,” notes Wiedrich.

“Where the Dream Began: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Rocky Mount NC” consists of eight panels and 10 pieces from the permanent collection. Panels show pictures and other memorabilia from the visits. Additionally, if visitors did not have a chance to see a part of Miller’s upcoming documentary focused on King’s visit in 1962, it will be a part of the exhibit too.

First Friday will also include a “Litter Art Show” reception from 6pm to 7pm in the Maria V. Howard Arts Center. Litter art, uniquely crafted from recyclables, will be on display, demonstrating the importance of recycling, planting and caring for trees, and not littering. The art was created by students in grades K-12. Fifty-four art pieces will be displayed, and there are more than 310 students participating from 14 schools.

First Friday takes place from 6-9pm. For more information on First Friday, visit, or call 252.972.1266.

First Friday is a City of Rocky Mount event which takes place at the Imperial Centre. The Imperial Centre is owned and operated by the City of Rocky Mount.

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About Kay Whatley 2309 Articles
Kay Whatley serves as Editor and Reporter with The Grey Area News. Kay is a published author with over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. Kay Whatley is wife to Frank Whatley, founder of The Grey Area™ newspaper and The Grey Area News online news website.