Loudoun County supervisors this year marked Black History Month with a celebration of some of the remarkable black people in the county—especially young people.
A proclamation recognizing February as Black History Month in Loudoun highlights two people in particular: record-breaking young athlete Elise Pridgeon, and remarkable scholar and model Bellen Woodard.
In March 2019, Pridgeon, then six years old, set new meet records for six-year-olds in the 200-yard dash and 60-yard dash at the Amateur Athletic Union’s Indoor Nationals in Maryland. She finished first in all five of her races at that meet.
She would then go on to set a 400-meter dash national record at the AAU Track and Field Primary Championships that summer, breaking the old record by six seconds, according to the AAU.
Meanwhile Bellen Woodard, a straight-A student at Evergreen Elementary School who has already skipped a grade, has also launched a national modeling career. She is part of Chobani Yogurt’s “Take Times Square” advertising campaign and one of four children in the country to be chosen for Target’s national “All Emotion” clothing campaign.
This year, she also launched the “More Than Peach” project, highlighting diversity in the classroom by working to distribute multicultural crayons to every elementary classroom and colored pencils in every middle school art class. The effort as launched when she noticed her classmates would ask for the “skin-color” crayon—meaning the peach-colored crayon. Learn more at morethanpeach.com.
The resolution also notes that last year, the Board of Supervisors approved a $1.47 million project to bring water to the historically black community of Howardsville, which long suffered without running water. It also notes that a record number of black candidates ran in last year’s local election, and that Loudoun’s first three black supervisors—Supervisors Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling) and Sylvia Russell Glass (D-Broad Run) and County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large)—all serve currently.
“The African Americans that I know would be well pleased if we didn’t have a Black History Month anymore, because it would mean that black history is taught right alongside of American history,” Randall said. “But because black history is not taught right alongside American history, is why we still need a Black History Month.”
Saines and Glass reflected on being taught to serve the community by their families.
“My parents Terry and Patience Saines taught us from a young age the value of a dollar, hard work and always giving back and being good neighbors and taking care of one another, and that’s what I try to do every single day,” Saines said.
And Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian) said “as I read through the individual items listed in the proclamation, my gratification at seeing this accomplishment was only tempered by knowing that we can and many of us are doing more.”