The Wrightsville Revitalization Project Committee held a black and white attired dedication and celebration of nearing completion of this six-year project, Saturday evening, August 12 at the Historic Masonic Theatre in downtown Clifton Forge.
Deloris Quarles, one who spear headed this massive project acted as Mistress of Ceremony for Part one of the event, which took place in the auditorium, with her granddaughter, Della, at her side. “It’s so mighty good to see everyone come out and celebrate this joyous celebration with us”, said Deloris. She talked about the long journey with a slide presentation of the project from beginning to present playing as the backdrop.
The project began in 2017 and is nearing completion. The completion date is set for October 31, 2023.
With only 20% left for completion, The Committee thought it was time to re-dedicate and celebrate Wrightsville. “It’s important to preserve your history and celebrate while people are still living,” said Deloris.
Later, Deloris would say that she is “super excited and exhausted, but it’s a historical moment.” She shared some of the hurdles to the project with having to go out of the area for contractors, weather related setbacks, and COVID-19. She also talked about “the new roads, new signs, new vision, and the new people” of Wrightsville. “I foresee Wrightsville as a tourist location,” said Deloris of the potential future for the re-dedicated Wrightsville.
Cynthia Carter, a descendent of former slaves Archie and Mary Wright, gave the welcome address. The Wrights bought their freedom from a nearby farm and founded Wrightsville in 1867. “I hope you enjoy the program and celebration. My prayer is that you would take a moment to reflect on how we got here,” said Carter. “It is because our ancestors who endured more than we will ever know so that we the current stewards of Wrightsville will continue the work in order that future generations will know the importance of Wrightsville,” Carter added.
Prayer was given by Deborah Spencer and an overview of the history of the revitalization project by Pamela Quarles. Pamela explained that Wrightsville is called Wrights Town and the people who make up Wrightsville are known as Wrightsvilleonians. She acknowledged Deloris, the community, Alleghany County acting as fiscal agent, the Alleghany County Board of Supervisors for starting the application process for a grant
with the Department of Housing and Community Development. They later moved on to the comprehensive grant and got approved for $1.4 million to revitalize “the last surviving black community in Alleghany County.”
After a moment of silence was observed for the deceased community members, including the five lost during the six-year project: Dr. Calvin Andre McClinton, Alice Jordan, Laura Gaines, Kim Jeter, and Ronnie Jordan, Dr. C. L. Bohannon, University of Virginia gave a presentation on his partnership with the Project.
Bohannon, then a faculty member of Virginia Tech, saw a story on the project and reached out to Deloris to offer his assistance. He used a PowerPoint slide show to present the various ways he and several Virginia Tech students partnered with the community and committee members. He demonstrated through landscape, architecture, and community history how Wrightsville could be.
The presentations were paused to recognize and honor Wrightsvilleonians who had served the nation in military service. Elizabeth Jordan read each name, branch of service, and war served, where applicable.
Shannon Cox, ACBOS, Boiling Springs District and a co-worker of Deloris’ gave the closing comments to Part One of the celebration. “The history tells a sad story because there are still those who have to fight harder than others,” began Cox as she hopes for a day when “we get to the point where that’s not going to happen.” “We’ve had hurdles and roadblocks, but Delores kept it all on track,” added Cox. “I’m honored you’d have me be a part of your celebration tonight.”
Before the audience took to the stairs (and elevator) to re-assemble in the Underground Café and Lounge of the Theatre for Part Two, Delethea Quarles surprised her sister, Deloris with a bouquet of flowers to “appreciate you, your work, and your courage.” “You stuck to the vision, the plan, and the assignment,” added Delethea.
In the Underground, the group was served a soul food dinner prepared and served by Christine Caterers of Richmond. They ended the evening by dancing the rest of the night away to the music provided by Chris “DJ Ten Stackz” Wade of Star City/DJ’s Entertainment Group, Salem.