Program speaker takes different approach

Published 11:09 pm Thursday, February 25, 2010

Elizabeth Huntley got the attention of her audience, made up entirely of high school students, by playing the popular hip hop song Boom Boom Pow.

Huntley then explained that, though not exactly social commentary, the song—recorded by a group that includes a white female, a black male and a Hispanic male—is why American society benefits from setting aside a month to recognize the history and accomplishments of black people.

“Nobody now gives a flip who’s in the band,” said Huntley, speaking in the Chilton County High School auditorium as part of the school’s observance of Black History Month. “There was a time 50 years ago that if a group like the Black Eyed Peas tried to take the stage anywhere, there would almost be a riot.”

Huntley, a 1989 CCHS graduate, was introduced by school principal Greg DeJarnett, who is a former classmate of Huntley’s.

“If I, Liz Huntley, an African-American female, can speak to you at a school that 50 years ago was segregated, then times have really changed,” Huntley said.

A student playing “Amazing Grace” on the saxophone while two teachers sang a verse preceded Huntley, an attorney for the Birmingham-based Lightfoot, Franklin & White.

Huntley spoke as much to the white students as the black students, saying she considers Black History Month a celebration of America.

“America is courageous in that we can go from selling people at an auction to where one of those people is president,” she said. “I’m proud to be an American, and I’m proud of Black History Month because it represents all that [Americans] have overcome.”