A scheduling conflict pushed the event two days out of the month when it usually takes place, said Hobson City Mayor Alberta McCrory, but the meaning of the gathering was the same regardless.
Alabama’s oldest incorporated black town, Hobson City has seen both prosperity and declining revenue. The theme of Saturday’s celebration — “At the crossroads of freedom and equality” — spoke to them both.
Chance of severe weather Saturday kept several planned speakers from showing, but those who came to the town’s FEMA building listened to spirituals sung by children from the Sable Learning Center.
Praise dancers from Glen Addie Community Church entertained the 40 or so in attendance. Along one wall inside the FEMA building, where the celebration took place, were posters made by local children with photographs of historical black figures.
Guest speaker Dr. Walter Hill, dean of the College
of Agricultural, Environmental and Natural Sciences at Tuskegee University, talked of the importance of black communities like Hobson City to work toward self-reliance.
Hill spoke of the need for Hobson City to look to its own in trying times and to ask for help from the men and women of the community.
“At this crossroads, we need to turn back to ourselves,” Hill said.
Montressor Suddeth, a 65-year resident of Hobson City, spoke to the crowd about his decision to stay in Hobson City all these years.
“People ask me why I never left. I ask, ‘why?’ There’s a great opportunity here,” Suddeth said. “Hobson City represents freedom. Although we have been at the crossroads for a long time, and because we’re still looking for equality — and that day is coming — I will be here to help our city grow for the rest of my life.”
Closing the ceremony, McCrory spoke about the future of her town, a town once listed on the Alabama Historical Commission’s “Places in Peril” List.
McCrory had, just the night before, cut the ribbon at the grand opening of a new business in Hobson City, I-20 Bingo.
“We have some good people in Hobson City…We are a community that cares about each other,” McCrory said. “We have come from a place of peril to promise, and we’re going to keep on moving.”
Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.