Student Shares History with the Community
February 23, 2017
Rio Grande, Ohio – University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College strives to keep the heritage of southeastern Ohio alive for current and future generations. One Rio student, Shannon Scott, has continued this effort by presenting a lecture at the Grace Episcopal Church in Meigs County on Pomeroy’s First Ward. His presentation was part of the Meigs County Historical Society Lecture Series. Scott said he hopes his role in the lecture series helped educate his fellow residents of Meigs County about notable historic figures from the area during Black History Month.
“History is important to me, period. We’re walking through history every day. This specific lecture is really important to me because I am a 44 year-old man who just recently discovered these scholars, who happened to be black, and their accomplishments from so long ago,” Scott said. “We never heard anything about them growing up, yet they had such an impact on society. I feel their accomplishments need to be remembered, whether they were white or black, because accomplishments like these serve as motivation for the next generation.”
Scott, a history student at the Rio Grande Meigs Center, focused his presentation on the work of two local African Americans, James McHenry Jones and James Edwin Campbell. Scott read Jones’s 1896 address to the West Virginia State Republican Convention, giving his nomination for George W. Atkinson on behalf of the Republicans of Ohio County in West Virginia. Jones was the first African American to attend Pomeroy High School in Meigs County.
“Jones was a very eloquent speaker and often spoke to large crowds. I chose this address because it can put you in the moment and give you a sense of his speaking ability,” Scott said. “He became an educator in West Virginia and was very influential in state politics. The work he did for education was so important and his story needs to be shared.”
Scott also read poetry from Campbell, who was an author and speaker who went on to write for the Chicago Tribune. Campbell was born in Pomeroy and was dedicated to preserving black history through his poetry.
“I chose to read from his book of poetry, Echoes from the Cabin and Elsewhere, which contains dialect poetry from the Gullah dialect, which can be very hard to read. It was often considered a slave dialect,” Scott said. “Campbell’s mission was to make sure the children of the next generation knew what this sounded like. I feel it’s important to keep that going even now. I want to carry on where he left off, increase awareness and celebrate the accomplishments of these virtually unknown greats of history from our town.”
Since taking classes at Rio, Scott has become a board member of the Meigs County Historical Society. He said he is grateful for the opportunity to share local history through the organization.
“I got to know the Meigs Center staff while running a bakery route for the Meigs County Senior Citizens, and they encouraged me to apply,” Scott said. “I’ve always loved history, but taking classes helped me learn that I want to teach history through the words of other people,” Scott said. “I’m honored to be able to do this as a board member for the Meigs County Historical Society. Rio has opened such a great doorway for me to do what I love.”
Scott lives in Middleport with his wife Patricia. He said he hopes by getting his associate degree he will encourage his children, Tishea, Tyra, Justine, Jonathan and Shanna, to further their own educations.
“My grandmother, Pearl Scott, went to Rio at the age of 70. She’s my inspiration to get my degree because I know how hard she worked and that she’d be proud,” Scott said. “I really hope my own kids will continue their education. My goal is to inspire them to go to school and get a degree so they can get good jobs. I know they’ll go places.”