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February 16, 2014

Trinity graduate to speak at Black History Celebration

— Anyone with a connection to or an interest in Trinity High School is invited to a free Black History Celebration at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, in the Beasley Center of First Methodist Church in Athens. Guest speaker will be the Rev. Louis F. Malone, a 1968 graduate of Trinity.

Malone, a dynamic preacher and teacher, has served as pastor of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Rockford, Ill., for the past 29 years. He holds a master’s degree in pastoral ministry from Newburgh Theological Seminary and an honorary doctorate from New Freedom Bible College. He is president of the Baptist General State Convention of Illinois, a volunteer chaplain for the city of Rockford Police Department, and a trustee of Chicago Baptist Institute.

Malone has held leadership roles in numerous other religious and civic organizations, including Rockford District Baptist Association, Baptist General Congress of Christian Education, Girl Scouts of America, Boy Scouts of America, NAACP, Rockford School Board, American Legion, and Fraternal Order of Masons.

The St. Luke M.B. Choir will offer musical selections.

An appeal will be made for donations toward the restoration of the Trinity School property, and event organizers challenge classes to compete among themselves to be highest contributor. Classes will be recognized for their contributions.

The evening is sponsored by Athens-Limestone Community Association. Event organizers are Carolyn Williams, a 1969 graduate of Trinity whose mother, Vera (Malone) Beck, was in Trinity’s Class of 1950, and Masheldia Green, who  calls herself a “surrogate Trinity graduate,” connected to the school through her mother, Armelia (Malone) Montgomery, Class of 1958, and her husband, Larry Green, Class of 1966.

Williams and Green are representative of the typical Trinity “family member,” with a school loyalty and devotion born of multigenerational ties to the institution. That’s why these two ALCA women are summoning family and friends together, marshaling forces to keep alive the history and legacy of the school that was founded in 1865 for the education of freedmen; thrived under decades of sponsorship by the American Missionary Association; was the only high school for African-Americans in all of Limestone County; transitioned from public to private school in the 1940s and 1950s; and closed in 1970 due to desegregation.

ALCA is committed to preserving the remaining structure on the school property. The location on Brownsferry Street has double significance, as it was also the site of a Union earthworks fort. Thanks to a grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administered by the city of Athens, work is currently underway to demolish unusable portions of the 1959 school building and repair the remaining portion. Under the careful stewardship of ALCA members Ed Gilbert and Richard Martin, scrap steel and aluminum are being recycled and the proceeds plowed back into the renovation project, and bricks are being cleaned for re-use. But even with that careful stewardship, funds are not sufficient to complete the entire project, including a museum that will tell the African-American story of the transition from slave to soldier to scholar.

“Just think what we could accomplish if every Trinity graduate contributed $100,” Williams said. “That would be enough to ensure that our children and their children would never forget the role that Trinity School has played in American history.”

For more information, call Masheldia Green at 256-654-9355 or Carolyn Williams at 256-777-9727.

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