(pictured above: Barbara Hayes and Beaufort and Pollye Bailey receive their awards from Dr. Mae Rodney, Cedric Rodney’s widow.)
Barbara S. Hayes and Beaufort and Pollye Bailey were presented with the 2014 St. Philips Cedric S. Rodney Unity Award last Thursday during Old Salem Museums and Gardens’ Juneteenth Luncheon.
The award was established in honor of the late Rev. Dr. Cedric S. Rodney, a Moravian minister who led the restoration efforts of historic St. Philips African Moravian Church in Old Salem. The church is the oldest standing African American church in the state and is where the abolition of slavery was announced to local blacks on Sunday, May 21, 1865. Juneteenth is an annual celebration of the end of slavery in United States.
Hayes and the Baileys were hailed as proven community bridge builders who have worked successfully to move people toward a common goal for the benefit of all of society.
Hayes has worked in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School system and has served on numerous boards and committees, including those of the Winston-Salem/ Forsyth County Emancipation Association and Winston Lake Family YMCA Black Achievers. She is the widow of Judge Roland Hayes, the county’s first black chief District Court judge.
“Thank you so much for bestowing this honor, especially because I had the privilege and pleasure of knowing the Rev. Dr. Rodney for more than 40 years. During that time, I watched him do so much in our community. He was truly an asset,” Hayes said.
The Baileys are longtime members of St. Philips. They worked to help restore the church and many other local historic sites, including Walnut Cove Colored School, Red Bank School, Oak Grove School and the home of Winston-Salem State University Founder Dr. Simon Green Atkins.
“This is one of the most cherished awards that I have received,” said Beaufort Bailey, a former School Board and Board of County Commissioners member. “It was always a joy to be around (Dr. Rodney).”
The luncheon also included a panel discussion of “Slavery, Broadway and Hollywood” and a performance of a snippet of Samm-Art
Williams, an acclaimed stage and screen writer, was joined by historian Dr. John Fleming and Dale Pollock, a Hollywood producer who teaches at UNC School of the Arts, for the discussion; WSSU professor Dr. Elwanda Ingram moderated.
Noting the recent success of “12 Years a Slave,” which Oscar voters picked as this year’s Best Picture, Williams, who has written for sitcoms like “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Martin,” said black films should not only look to the past, but forward and to the here-and-now by fixing some of the toxic portrayals of blacks that have too long existed.
“We can’t, 50 years from now, have the same conversation. Black Americans were never de-programmed from slavery, and that is why ya’ll are angry,” Williams said. “Get rid of that bitterness … We have to admit to what our backgrounds are. We must teach our children how to approach this from a positive standpoint,” said Williams, who believes more financing is needed so that young, talented black writers, directors and producers can tell different stories.
Pollock, whose producer credits include the films “Set it Off” and “The Mighty Quinn,” said movies like “Birth of a Nation” and “Gone with the Wind” are two of the most popular films in American history, though both depict negative stereotypes of African Americans.
“Slavery is a controversial topic to discuss within American cinema because the hodgepodge of Hollywood films that have tackled slavery … often featured negative stereotypes of black people,” Pollock said. “There is tremendous resistance in the market place for making anything different than a very safe, urban movie.”
Fleming, a noted author who has served as the national president of the Study of African American Life and History, spoke about the historical aspects of slavery, saying that with the exception of a few abolitionists, most Americans accepted slavery, and the second-class citizenship it dictated, as normal facts of life.
“When there came to matters of races, there was little distinction between popular belief and what was held as scientific evidence,” Fleming said. “Slavery characterized and shaped America more than any institution.”