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Author Nathan McCall closes out Black History Month

march on washington

They started on Freedom and Campus drives on the Portsmouth Campus singing “We Shall Overcome” as they walked to the Forum.

We’ll walk hand in hand, we’ll walk hand in hand
We’ll walk hand in hand some day
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe
We’ll walk hand in hand some day

Tidewater Community College students, staff, faculty and community members closed out Black History Month by commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

“We are here to show that we have overcome hurdles and the struggles from the civil rights era,” said student Daquan Phillips. “When you look at everyone here, you see diversity.”

Several from St. Mark’s Missionary Baptist Church turned out in support. “It’s good to show people that not everything has changed – that there’s still a need for Black History Month,” said Lewis Taylor.

Author Nathan McCall led the march and culminated the day with a talk in the Forum. McCall, who grew up in Portsmouth’s Cavalier Manor, wrote “Makes Me Want to Holler,” a detailed story of the hardships he experienced growing up with racial profiling, class differences and peer pressure. McCall marveled at the Portsmouth Campus replacing what long ago was Academy Park.

“It’s amazing what time can do,” McCall said. “Academy Park is no more, replaced by an institution of higher learning. Now I’m standing here in what was once a segregated community and celebrating Black History Month.”

McCall admitted he did not attend the March on Washington but has come to appreciate those who he realized marched on his behalf.

“I represent the generation that reaped the benefits of that event,” McCall said.

Michelle Woodhouse, Nathan McCall
Nathan McCall and Provost Michelle Woodhouse

McCall praised Martin Luther King Jr. for being a revolutionary thinker with a special affinity for the poor, regardless of race.

In closing, McCall urged students to get involved in community matters. “What matters most,” he said, “is you use this time, use this place as a launching pad to do bigger and better things.”