Kyla Harrell, who was 13 at the time, looks at displays at the Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum in New Smyrna Beach. Kyla is a granddaughter of the late Mary Harrell. The museum will be a a big part of the 30th New Smyrna Beach Black Heritage Festival Feb. 4-16, 2022.

Kyla Harrell, who was 13 at the time, looks at displays at the Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum in New Smyrna Beach. Kyla is a granddaughter of the late Mary Harrell. The museum will be a a big part of the 30th New Smyrna Beach Black Heritage Festival Feb. 4-16, 2022.
The 30th Black Heritage Festival will be Feb. 4-6, back in New Smyrna Beach after missing a year.
It begins with Larry Murphy of Port Orange performing the one-man show, “Thurgood,” Friday, Feb. 4.
There will be a wine and craft beer social hour with skewers at 6 p.m. on the waterfront in the Brannon Center, followed by the performance.
Thurgood Marshall was an American lawyer and civil rights activist, who served as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1967 to 1991. The first African-American to serve on the court.
The festival continues from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6, at Pettis Park in New Smyrna Beach.
Mr. Murphy, 58, who served 24 years in the U.S. Air Force is a fan of both Mr. Marshall and Charles Hamilton Houston (another prominent African American attorney). “They changed the United States through legal legislation. Their results last forever,” he said.
Mr. Murphy read the play by George Stevens Jr., got the script and began performing it at Florida colleges, military bases, libraries and senior living facilities.
“The man was amazing,” Mr. Murphy said. “That’s why I get psyched up about it. It’s two hours of intense nonstop dialogue and audio-visual. It’s actual acting. Thurgood, he’s my hero. Him and Charley Houston.”
People should see the play “for those over 50 for nostalgia and for under to learn,” said Mr. Murphy, who is an endangered species consultant.
Linda Herring, whose mother Mary S. Harrell founded the festival in 1991, is coordinating this year’s event.
Ms. Harrell also founded the Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness and appreciation for African American culture and history.
Ms. Herring participates every year, because “it was a labor of love for her and my dad. Legacy means a lot and my mom has left a fantastic legacy. I’m passionate because I saw her passion in it. It’s a way to reach out to the community and keep not only her name alive but keep the museum going. For people in the community and people outside the community coming together as one.”
She continued, “People want to laugh again. They want to get out. Come out and dance. Be proud of who you are.”
Ms. Herring added, “My mom loved people. She loved to see people explore their heritage and their culture. She always told us as kids that it’s important to know where you came from. Knowing that you can pretty much set your path as to where you want to go. Go north, south, east or west. If that didn’t work in your past, then you know how to change your destiny.”
She noted the festival isn’t just for the black community, but for the whole community.
Ms. Herring said, “She loved everybody and she felt if everybody could respect each other’s culture, then the world would be a beautiful place. I’m different from you; you’re different than me. But the bottom line is we’re all people.”
Pettis Park is next to the Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum, which is at 314 N. Duss St. The free festival will include multiple vendors with food, music, entertainment and more. Heritage Museum tours will be available and there will be a sugar cane grinding demonstration.
Tickets to “Thurgood” are $45 and available at events.eventzilla.net/E/Thurgood-2138821069.
The museum is open to the public for free. You an still visit with Jimmy Harrell, 91, but Ms. Harrell died in 2014.
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