ROSEBORO — For Tonya Royal, visiting Charles E. Perry School every summer is always a special moment.
Outside of the historical building, music played Saturday and food sizzled on grills as community members enjoyed games, laughter and memories under the shade at the 21st Annual Lakewood Community District Picnic. Royal said it emulates a “large family reunion.”
“Everyone comes out, we cook and we visit each other’s tents,” Royal said. “We fellowship and just have a grand old time.”
Royal was one of several committee members carrying on a tradition of bringing families and friends together. She attended the first Community Day in the late 1990s.
“I’m glad that we’ve been able to keep it alive all these years,” Royal said about the celebration. “I pay homage to my roots. My mother, my father and the rest of my family members have always been a part of this day. My mom was a faithful attendee all the years, up until her passing. She was here every year, so I felt it was like a duty to carry it and step in to do whatever I can to make sure it continues.”
Mikasa Melvin, a committee member, was grateful for the support of local business in the area for door prizes such as gift cards.
“They helped us in any way that they could and we’re very appreciative,” Melvin said.
Nearby, Stanley Boone enjoyed grilling hamburgers, chicken and ribs. He was one of many who cooked Saturday. Boone expressed how the event continues to grow each year.
“It’s beautiful and it couldn’t be better,” Boone said while meat sizzled on the grill.
The daylong event was followed by 2018 Second Annual Legacy Dinner for the Gwyn Fisher Turman Scholarship Fund. Rosenwald Era Octogenarians were honored for their service. Rosenwald Schools were founded in the early 1900s when educator and civil rights activist Booker T. Washington formed a friendship with Julius Rosenwald, a businessman and philanthropist and president of Sears, Roebuck and Company. Funds from the money were used to build schools for black students. Thousands of schools were built in 15 states. Five of them were in Sampson County — Garland, White Oak, Sampson Training, the Snow Hill School and Roseboro Colored School, which would become the Charles E. Perry.
During the Community Day Celebration, many attendees such as Philip Mozee wore pink shirts to honor the oldest living honoree, Gladys Boone.
“I think it’s a real thing,” Mozee said about the celebrations. “It’s a good feeling to honor them. They came before us and to honor them is a great thing.”
Linda Mozee added that the event was also a special time for the community to enjoy each other.
“You get to see a lot of people you haven’t seen in a while,” she said. “It’s a good thing.”