By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – Aundrea Self told Tupelo High School students to continue to dream big.
Self, an anchor and reporter for WCBI News and the host of a morning talk show, was the keynote speaker during Tupelo High School’s annual Black History Month celebration on Wednesday. She told the students of her humble beginnings, describing how a shy girl from a broken home in Starkville came to one day interview the president of the United States.
“It doesn’t matter where you are today, if you can close your eyes and imagine who you want to become,” she said. “All you have to do is to believe, and to work toward that.”
Wednesday’s event in the school’s gymnasium also featured performances by members of the THS Voices student choir.
“I like that everyone was involved,” said sophomore Caitlin Gardner, 16. “Everyone was celebrating Black History Month together and not separately. We were a unit.
“I loved how (Self) talked about black history is not just about African-Americans, but everyone can be involved.”
Self spoke of the need for Black History Month, noting the long period of time in which the accomplishments of African-Americans were either ignored or the credit was given to someone else.
“It is difficult for us to imagine a world where black people and white people lived totally separate lives,” she said. “We have to remember the past in order to share a better future.”
The event’s theme was “Beyond the Dream,” and Self challenged students to live that message, noting that the true measure of success is “knowing you can be the very best person you can be.”
“Not everyone will be on the Superintendent’s or Principal’s list, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for being less than your best,” she said. “Carve out a legacy at Tupelo High you can be proud of.”
THS Associate Principal and Career Center Director Evett Topp, who helped organize the program, said it was an important message for students to hear.
“I hope it would inspire our students not to take for granted what our forefathers did for them to get here and to honor them by taking advantage of our educational system in order to be successful,” she said.
Senior Richard Taylor, 18, the student body president, said he learned why Black History Month was important.
“It is about improving relations with all people and celebrating all human accomplishments,” he said. “And as the years come, more will improve.”