• Unity Festival brings message of healing

    This article was originally written by the High Point Enterprise. Click to view >>


    HIGH POINT — Unity, love and peace were the themes on Saturday as neighbors and community members gathered on Washington Street for the 10th annual Unity Festival.

    Music from the T. Wingate Andrews High School Marching Band set the pace as members of the Washington Street Business Association, community leaders and the Piedmont Tigers cheerleaders marched along Washington Street from Penn-Griffin School for the Arts to 619 E. Washington St.

    The Tigers cheerleaders practiced the chant “U-N-I-T-Y, we can make it if we try” outside the school before the girls, ages 5-12, led the march.

    The Unity March passed vendor booths and shops open for business before reaching a stage where performers from the Home-Grown Music Series, professional R&B singer Aseelah, DJs and speakers entertained throughout the festival.

    “Celebrating 10 years is a major accomplishment,” said Bryon D. Stricklin, outreach consultant with the Washington Street Business Association. “Good, bad or indifferent, we all have our ups and downs, but consistency is the key. Every year, the Washington Street Business Association has hosted this festival with the purpose of bringing more unity to the community.”

    Amber Williamson spoke for Business High Point-Chamber of Commerce, thanking the Washington Street Business Association. “This is making an impact on our city, and we’re so happy to be a part of it,” she said.

    Community activist Greg Commander, who served as a guest speaker, said his goal was to bring a divided community together in love — using the word as an acronym for loyalty, observation, virtue and education.

    “Today is about unifying for the future, and we’ve got to start here, right now,” Commander said.

    “If each of us buys into just a little piece of that unity High Point needs, it will go a long way,” High Point NAACP President James Adams said. Adams said he had to leave the festival early to attend a funeral of a young person who lost his life in violence. He called for change

    “How many bodies have to stack up before we say something, before we get something done?” Adams asked. “How angry do we have to become before it ends? We can look to all types of outside community organizations. We can blame the guys downtown. We can plead for law enforcement. We can look for our religious leaders to pray it away. But in the end, until we look at us … it has to stop. If you don’t think it’s intentional, think again.”

    Adams noted he experienced a similar situation in his hometown when people didn’t speak until they woke up to bulldozers and realized it was too late. Seeing the Washington Street community show up for the Unity Festival is a positive sign, Adams said. “It’s a beginning to what we have to heal in High Point,” he said.

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