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What began as a meeting in the spring of 1990 by the Kelly Miller Alumni Association to discuss fund-raising ideas has evolved into what is known today as the West Virginia Black Heritage Festival.  The first celebrations held by the African-American community in Clarksburg were commemorations of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln.  Appropriately called an “Emancipation Proclamation Celebration,” the first official event was held on September 22, 1990 on E.B. Saunders Way (formerly known as Water Street) in Clarksburg, WV with city officials in attendance for the reading of the Proclamation.
            The weekend celebration was so popular; its attendance exceeded the expectations of the association.  Local social clubs and community organizations served as vendors in the early years of the event.  In 1995, the celebration became too large for the Kelly Miller Alumni Association, thus the next step in the evolution of the festival began.
            In 1995, after an organizational meeting was held to elect officers and appoint committees, the Black Heritage Festival picked up where the Emancipation Proclamation Celebration left off.  The original board of directors included many hard-working and dedicated citizens from the local
African-American community: Allen Lee, Gladys Griffin, Grace Nunn, Felicia Wilkinson, Barbara Smith, Marie McCoy, George and Eleanor Hilson, Victorian Louistall Monroe, Raymond Smith Sara Daugherty, Betty Wilson and Richard Albert.  In 2001, another name change took place when the West Virginia Black Heritage Festival became incorporated.  It gained 501 (C)(3) non-profit status in 2003.
            The festival has gone from housing ten to twelve vendors to approximately 50 today.  It has also featured some nationally known entertainment: The Drifters, The Marcels, The Delfonics, The Intruders and the Dunbar Jazz Ensemble, as well as  African-American Miss America, Kimberly Aiken.
            Unfortunately, the youth of today are faced with many troubling and negative influences.  The festival exposes the African-American youth in the Clarksburg community to the idea that there are options available; that positive contributions will help them make difficult decisions.  The festival’s efforts are concentrated toward the younger generation by recognizing and honoring a young king and queen each year.  Financial assistance in the form
of an annual scholarship is given to a deserving youth to help further their education.  In 2004, the festival’s efforts were also proven through participation in the Kelly Miller Enrichment Program, an after-school program open to all youth within Harrison County.
The like-mindedness of, first the Kelly Miller Alumni Association, then the West Virginia Black Heritage Festival Board, led to a successful event for the African-American Community of Clarksburg, WV-“We believe that with a good idea, with positive support and with God’s blessings, all things are possible.”  They have succeeded in fulfilling the festival’s mission to “promote the African-American experience while addressing the many milestones that our forefathers have made since the Emancipation Proclamation.”


   James E. Griffin-Chairman ● Dorian A. James-Vice President
Linda Holyfield- Secretary 
Joy Singleton-Treasurer 

Jason Cooke • Debora Davis • Barbara Dillard • Tanisha C. Dillard-Bland  •  Shreddrick Donaldson
Terri Donaldson • Joyce Griffin •  
Ronnie Hampton •  James Harris
 •  Gregory Hinton
Cheryl Hylton  •  Kristi James  •  Jo Ann James • 
Sherri James    Heidi Kennedy • Millie Merchant 
Darius Nunn  •  Carolyn Pride • Chris Pride • George Pride  •  Raymond Smith •  Eddie Walker  •  Jeanette Walker
Mary Walker  • Tara Wilkinson • Theodore Wilson