BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
The Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum will celebrate and sponsor its 23rd Annual Black Heritage Festival Feb. 7-9 in New Smyrna Beach. There will be music and entertainment throughout the weekend with gospel music and singing featured on Sunday. Multi-cultural food will be sold along with arts and crafts, hair weaving and face painting.
A storyteller will also be on site to give Florida’s rich history. Tours of the museum will be available while at the festival.
“The Black Heritage Festival is an event that the founder of the Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum established many years ago at the St. Rita’s Colored Catholic Church in order to provide the community with the history and heritage of New Smyrna,” said the Rev. Lorenzo Laws, chairman of the Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum.
“The festival is to celebrate the history but also to bring residents throughout the city, the county and the state for tours of the museum and other activities of the festival.”
Glimpse of history, customs
It is one of the few of its kind in the state of Florida.
The museum houses a collection of photographs, memorabilia and artifacts that are displayed to educate citizens about the history and race relations in small-town Florida over the course of the 20th century. The information dates back to the early 1960s offering a glimpse at African-American history and customs.
“Mary Harrell has been a trailblazer in the City of New Smyrna Beach since the 1960s,” Laws explained. She has been presented with numerous awards, recognized by many communities and participated in various organizations.”
Harrell holds a 32-year teaching career in Volusia County. She founded the festival in 1991 and established the museum in 1999.
There will be Dutch oven cooking, line dancing, tours at the museum, sugar cane grinding and fish smoking demonstrations.
For more information, call 386-478-1934 or 386-416-9699.