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Spencer library celebrates Black History Month

By Beverly McCraw

Spencer Public Library

Despite the gloomy weather last Friday, 20 men, women and children from various walks of life provided Kia Rice, the songwriter known as Virtuous, an enthusiastic audience at Spencer Public Library.

The Celebrate Inspirational Black Women program in honor of Black History Month was hosted by Spencer Public Library. Three women shared stories of overcoming obstacles: Melissa Summers, founder of Thelma Smith Foundation South Branch; Shatoya Johnson, student support specialist at Hanford Dole Elementary School; and Dileika Wilson, co-owner of Timeless Wigs at 121 W. Innes St.

Summers summed up her mission in life with one key word — “service.” Her organization collects food and clothing for needy families who have suffered great loss or are in desperate circumstances. Her organization hosts back-to-school giveaways and aids in fundraisers throughout the county.

She champions small business owners and networks with other charitable groups to better serve her community.

Johnson understands the plight of her young students at Hanford Dole, as she has personally experienced similar challenges. Johnson has a passion to ensure that each child feels secure and comfortable at school as she aids them in acquiring uniforms, tutoring and choosing healthy food. She teaches parenting classes and is always looking for caring adults to volunteer to help struggling students with schoolwork.

Wilson, a breast cancer survivor at age 33, told the group that she had never dreamed of owning a business such as Timeless Wigs. A former human relations specialist, her compassionate nature helped her empathize with the employees. She sees helping customers feel good about themselves and their hair as her ministry.

Wilson takes time and care with each customer as she understands how it feels to experience cancer treatments and how they affect self-esteem. She has co-owned the Salisbury store for three years and stresses the importance of supporting local businesses. 

“Virtuous,” a graduate of Liberty University, was raised in a church background. She shared her faith journey about seeking the truth in her youth. The expression of her deeply rooted faith came through in her honest, soul-baring, uplifting rap-style songs.

Writing her own authentic and poetic songs, she communicates with the younger generation. She seeks to be a role model for young women who are struggling with self-image and bullying issues. Her song “21 and Up” includes the lyrics “Are you focused just on what is legal?” and “Breaking cycles and addictions, walking in his power, living through the savior.”

Rice spoke of the necessity of “clap-back,” another song that speaks of negative things and lies that come against us and we need to “clap-back.” The audience clapped to this song and demanded an encore. Another song that spoke of not giving up encouraged the audience to shout “Naw” when Rice sang “not giving up.”

Her new CD, “Clarity,” was released last November.

Subway in Spencer, managed by Kevin Jones, donated food for the program.

To learn about more programs at Spencer Public Library, check out its Facebook page.

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