By Brandon Martin
Martinsville Mayor Kathy Lawson read the winners of the 5th annual Black History Month Art Competition, sponsored by the U.S. Cellular, at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge location on Church Street on March 11.
“We have a special tradition here at the Boys and Girls Club to get everyone excited before announcing the winners,” she said in front of a room packed with children of various ages, their parents and teachers. “Let’s hear a drumroll!”
The top artist was Vincent Correa, 9, who took home a $500 gift card for his portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Coming in second was Kaleb Belcher, 12, who was unable to attend the ceremony. His portrait of Michael Jackson earned him a $200 gift card.
Rounding out top honors was Maria Johnson, 17, who won a $150 gift card for her portrait of Malcom X.
As in past years, club members were tasked in January with creating their own original pieces of art in recognition of influential African Americans. The children could choose from business leaders, athletes, historical figures and celebrities. The top ten finalist’s art was on display at the Martinsville U.S. Cellular store during the month of February. There, area residents voted on the winners.
“It was our honor to showcase the creative and beautiful artwork that these kids created in our stores,” said Bertram Daniels, area sales manager at U.S. Cellular. “Highlighting influential African American icons of the past and the present with works of art from the Boys and Girls Club of the Blue Ridge youth is one of our favorite ways to celebrate both Black History Month and the rich diversity of this country.”
A representative from the Martinsville store was also on hand to help celebrate with the area youth.
“I’m super excited to be here because I’ve been able to be part of our partnership for the last few years and U.S. Cellular takes a lot of pride in being able to work with the Boys and Girls Club here locally as well as nationally,” Leslie Martin said. “Look at these great pieces of art! Aren’t they awesome? I want to thank the artists for taking the time to invest and coming up with these.”
The executive director of the Blue Ridge club also expressed her gratitude for the competition and underscored the importance of the arts.
“I do really appreciate everyone being able to participate in the art competition,” Joanie Petty said. “The arts are something that we want people to encourage. Even if you don’t like art, it’s nice when you get to express yourself and learn something about yourself when you try something out of your comfort zone.”
The Black History Month Art Contest is funded and supported by the U.S. Cellular’s Network of Black Associates, an Associate Resource Group dedicated to creating a diverse company culture that attracts, develops and retains African American associates.