GREENE COLUMN: Calendar recognizes role models

O'Bryant-Seabrook

In October, AT&T will unveil its 2013 calendar highlighting African-American role models across the state.

It will be the 23rd year since the S.C. African-American History Calendar was first printed to honor those who have made a difference.

Since 1990, more than 275 people have been spotlighted. Educator, lecturer and fiber artist Marlene O’Bryant-Seabrook of Charleston joins the rank this year. She is August’s honoree.

The calendar has become a virtual Hall of Fame, said AT&T spokesman Clifton Metcalf.

It started as a way to celebrate blacks’ contributions and help the Education Department meet its state history requirements.

The calendars are popular among educators, students and those wanting to learn more black history.

Online, they have piqued the interest those not only across the state but the nation, Metcalf said.

Tennessee, Florida, Alabama and North Carolina also have calendars.

Got a person in mind?

Anyone can nominate someone, download or request a free calendar by going to scafricanamericanhistory.com; nominations for 2014 are being accepted.

A team selects one or two people for each month.

People are selected from all different fields — music, arts, education, military, legislators. Not all are professionals; some are volunteers.

The person should be someone who gives back to the community in some way.

It’s a way to honor African-Americans, many of whom have never received the recognition they deserve, Metcalf said.

It is also a way to inspire students to perform better in school, he said.

Who’s Who

Local civil rights leader Septima Poinsette Clark was among the first to be highlighted in the calendar’s inaugural edition. April was her month.

In the early 1920s, she was involved in efforts to allow blacks to teach in public schools in Charleston. Clark, who would have been in the forefront of today’s literacy drive, taught on the Sea Islands and helped to establish schools for illiterate adults across the South.

Other honorees included astronaut Ronald E. McNair, Judge Matthew James Perry Jr., NBA player Alex English, state Sen. I. DeQuincey Newman, musician Dizzy Gillespie, local businessman W. Melvin Brown and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

O’Bryant-Seabrook said her inclusion was a “complete surprise and I was quite pleased and honored to join the impressive list of past honorees.”

The third-generation educator — who holds a BS from S.C. State, MAT from The Citadel and Ph.D. from USC — said she has been aware of calendar for years.

In 1975, she became the first African-American and one of two women on The Citadel’s permanent faculty. She is also a nationally exhibited quilter.

Reach City Editor Shirley A. Greene at 937-5555 or sgreene@postandcourier.com.

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