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Community Center fetes Black history

Updated: Nov 1, 2022

Black History Month was celebrated at the Hobgood Community Center , with history shared by Elzatie Watson and Philip Cross.

They are members of the Hobgood/Halifax community and former students of the Thomas Shields Elementary School, according to a press release. They are also members of the Thomas Shields Citizens Group Inc.

Watson, 83, shared how the late Easter Hilliard came to her in the late 1980s and wanted to make the old Thomas Shields School into a community center for after school activities, a senior center and just a community place that could house a place for learning and socialization. The facility was able to provide a well maintained area for social functions, a kitchen, and many rooms for additional activities.

Elzatie Watson

They found out the building was available and started the Hobgood Citizens Group Inc. A director was added and many activities were held including weight lifting classes, GED classes, exercise classes, congregate meals for the seniors, home for the Head Start Center, computer classes, out of town trips, after school programs, and summer programs for youth.

Later 15 to 20 senior citizens in the community were entered in a pageant and $12,000 was raised to pay for the building. Many of the graduates and their families who had been under IA Wilson, principal of Thomas Shields Elementary School, contributed to take care of that


Cross, 78, a retired farmer, attended the school and also remembered it being a Rosenwald School. He remembered the potbelly coal heaters, outside toilets for boys and girls, May Day activities, wrapping of the flag pole, buying sugar cookies, playing baseball, Crum Field Store, John Fields Store and the Whitakers Store.

Phillip Cross

Others can remember free health clinic with East Carolina University Student doctors, Annual Activity Day, and the first Saturday in October which provided a reunion for Hobgood.

The community center now has a 15-year food bank program that helps families in a th

ree-county area. Staff continue to rent the multi-purpose center and have a clothes closet for families. The center also participates with the Halifax County Council on Aging, Southeastern Halifax Coalition and attends monthly meetings with the Hobgood Town Hall.

The six-member board is looking for positive minds and caring hearts to help provide the

needs of this much-needed community center. For more information, call 1-252-813-3126 and be a part of this Hobgood Community history.

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