Inmate Services staff hosted the Black History Month celebration at the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center on February 27. The program featured guest speaker Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr., the superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS), and presentations by inmates.
After staff welcomed inmates and Dr. Hutchings, the Inmate Choir performed “I Smile” under the musical direction of Kammie Stubblefield, a member of the Inmate Services team, and accompanied by keyboardist Reginald Anderson, who is active in the local faith community. The Inmate Choir currently has 22 members and previously performed at the Martin Luther King, Jr. program in January.
Following the choir’s performance, two inmates addressed the audience and shared profiles of African Americans who played prominent roles in U.S. history. Ronald Graham discussed Carter G. Woodson who, nearly 100 years ago, founded Negro History Week which later expanded into Black History Month. Another inmate discussed Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician whose calculations contributed significantly to the success of early spaceflights.
Dr. Hutchings (above) then addressed the audience and offered a candid but hopeful message. He acknowledged the educational system's failure to provide the social and emotional support that many inmates needed when they were in school. He also discussed his family’s personal connections to the criminal justice system. But he encouraged the audience by urging them not to let their past define their future. He praised those who are taking advantage of educational and other programs at the detention center, and he told all in attendance that they are all worthy and deserving of success, despite any earlier bad decisions they might have made. Following his remarks, Dr. Hutchings welcomed questions from the audience and several inmates thanked him for his message.
In his closing remarks, Sheriff Dana Lawhorne also thanked Dr. Hutchings, as well as the Inmate Services staff, the Inmate Choir, and Mr. Anderson, the keyboardist. After the program, Dr. Hutchings greeted each inmate and wished them well.