‘What will your legacy be?’
MICHIGAN CITY — “Learn from yesterday. Live for today. Hope for tomorrow.”
That was the theme of the Michigan City Black History Month Committee’s fifth annual Black History Month Kickoff Brunch at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts on Saturday.
And it brought together residents and public officials from throughout La Porte County to celebrate.
The New Hope Missionary Baptist Church Praise Dancers performed. Ming Washington of the Lubeznik Center read her poem “Love Will Make You Do Wrong.” The Rev. Thomas Payton provided musical entertainment. And Momma Sue’s restaurant catered the meal.
Peggy Thomas, principal at Edgewood Elementary School among other roles in the community, was the keynote speaker.
She talked of growing up poor.
One of nine people living in a two-bedroom row house in Savannah Georgia during the Civil Rights Era, Thomas’ mother died when she was an infant, and her father was unable to care for her.
She moved in with her grandparents, who also died when she was a child; and then went to live with an aunt and uncle in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“If you think about this scenario, you would think that this child does not stand a chance,” Thomas said of her childhood circumstances.
However, she emphasized, what her family lacked in material wealth, they had in abundance when it came to providing a loving, supportive environment.
It was from their nurturing that she was able to develop a strong and positive character.
Treating others with respect and carrying oneself with respect were of paramount importance to Thomas’ grandmother, who instilled those values in her.
“No matter what anyone else was doing, you are responsible for what you are doing,” Thomas said.
She listed four guiding principles for living:
• “Be intentional and purposeful in everything you do.”
• When things don’t go your way, don’t consider it to be rejection – it’s protection.
• “It always seems impossible until it’s done” – a quote by Nelson Mandela.
• And find something you’re passionate about and pursue that.
For Thomas, educating children ignites her passion.
She said all children need discipline – as a “disciple” is one who follows a teacher.
“The things you say to children become their inner voice,” Thomas reminded her audience.
She talked about building character in children, and teaching them to become problem solvers.
“Show them the choices they make will dictate the lives they live.”
Thomas will retire from Michigan City Area Schools in June of this year, but she will leave behind a long-lasting legacy of having touched the lives of many students and fellow educators.
She recalled the legacy of her late husband, Donnie Thomas, a “relentless” man – yet “gentle giant” – who also taught in Michigan City for many years.
And Thomas left her audience to ponder, “What will your legacy be?”
Black History Month
A look ahead at more local events and celebrations
n Black History Exhibits
Feb. 2 - March 3
Mullen School, 100 Manny Court
Call Allen Williams at (219) 873-2026, ext. 8737 for a schedule or to book a group tour.
n Black Cinema Nights
Artspace Lofts, 717 Franklin St.
Feb. 7 - “Black Panther”
Feb. 14 - “Selma”
Feb. 21 - “BlacKkKlansman”
Feb. 28 - “The Hate You Give”
All showings begin at 6 p.m.
n Christian Comedy Night
Feb. 9, 6:30 p.m.
Bethel AME Church, 629 E. Michigan Boulevard
n Essence Rare Black Expo
Feb. 16, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Quiz Bowl from 10 a.m. - noon
n Gospel Fest
Feb. 16, 5-8 p.m.
Full Gospel House of Prayer, 2700 Ohio St.
n Black History Month Celebration
Feb. 17, 3-5 p.m.
Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 123 Helen St.
n Black History Celebration Service
Feb. 17, 3:30 p.m.
Redeemed Fellowship Church, 7922 W. Pahs Road
Theme: “Who Am I?”
n Panel Discussion
Feb. 17, 5-7 p.m.
Bethel AME Church
Topic: “Growing Up Black in Michigan City”
n Indiana Black Expo Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball
Feb. 23, 7 p.m. - midnight
White Eagle Park, 2107 Welnetz Road
Tickets $25 per person
n Express Yourself Talent Show
Feb. 24, 5-7 p.m., Doors open at 4 p.m.
Stan Holdcraft Performing Arts Center, 1200 Spring St.
n Black History Month Awards Ceremony
Feb. 27, 4-5 p.m.
City Hall, 100 E. Michigan Blvd.
Awards presented by the Michigan City Human Rights Commission