RADFORD – Radford Mayor David Horton is honoring Radford Black History Month on his personal Facebook page, highlighting a different notable citizen each day of February.
He kicked things off on Feb. 1 with the story of Dr. Charles Charlton, who had a 60-year career as a pastor and was Radford’s first African-American mayor.
On February 2, Horton featured lifelong Radford resident Sarah Carter.
“Today in #radfordblackhistory I am pleased to share the story of Sarah Carter,” Horton posted. “I don’t know many folks in Radford who don’t know Ms. Sarah, as she is a driving force behind many events and celebrations in our community.
“Sarah Carter’s family in this area goes back to a time before Radford was Radford, and every step of the way, she and her ancestors have helped shape this community. I like to think of her as a guardian of history. A champion of truth, no matter how challenging it may be.
“I had the pleasure to work with her during the Radford University Centennial in 2010, and our paths cross frequently in our wonderful community as she was always a shining face at our community gatherings in non-pandemic times.
Sarah not only shares the story of Radford’s history, but helps to build the future in this city through her work with many organizations including Glencoe Mansion, Museum & Gallery and the Radford Heritage Foundation. Thank you to Sarah and all the keepers of the Radford story.”
On February 3, Horton featured the beloved Josh Green.
“Today in #radfordblackhistory we are proud to feature every Radford kid’s best friend at McHarg Elementary: Josh Green,” Horton wrote.
“Mr. Green is the custodial engineer for McHarg and has helped generations of families in Radford have a great experience since he started with the school in 1985.
If a place can have a heart and soul, Josh Green is that for McHarg. Students, teachers, administrators and parents light up at the mere mention of his name and usually follow with a Mr. Green story about how he made their day better.
“He is a caretaker for more than a structure because he cares so much about the occupants,” the mayor posted. “He knows everyone’s name and remembers them years after they have moved on. I’ve seen high school seniors literally jump for joy when they spot Mr. Green on their senior walk through the building.
“Any place where he encounters someone is his classroom and his lesson is positivity, confidence, and being the best you can be,” Horton wrote. “The kids know this before they even set foot in that school as they have heard of Mr. Green from their siblings and friends.
“He exemplifies the best in our community because he is an amazing neighbor and a true humanitarian. The city council recognized him for his spirit and dedication with the Big Al Hall humanitarian award several years ago, and his commitment to our city has only grown stronger since then.
“The COVID 19 pandemic brought a new host of challenges to school life, and Mr. Green was right there to not only help with new layouts and safety measures along with cleaning and disinfecting to help keep folks healthy and in school as much as possible, but his bright smile and the positive spirit he brings every day lightened the burden of a heavy time for all,” Horton said in his post. “Some who were very uncertain about going back to school at this time felt a little better knowing that Mr. Green was part of the team making it work.
“Please join me in recognizing a force for goodness in our fair city, Mr. Josh Green.”
On Feb. 4, Horton wrote about Earnest Hayden, Radford[s first black police officer.
“Today in #radfordblackhistory we highlight Earnest Hayden, the first African-American to serve as a Radford Police Officer,” Horton wrote.
“His service began in January 1972 and continued with distinction for many years,” Mayor Horton posted. “So many of my friends and kids our age looked up to him for his poise, strength and dedication to his role and our community. It is very hard to break barriers, and it takes a special person to do so and to withstand some of the challenges that come with that change.
“For those who know him, you know he continues to make a great difference in Radford to this day because he is such a wonderful friend to all.
“It can be hard to believe that as recently as the early 70s, the world was still very much separate racially and trailblazers were doing things no one had done before,” Horton wrote. “We have come far and yet we still have many miles to go.
“As a side note, I am proud to say that my grandfather, W.D. Lorton, was serving as chief at that time, welcoming Earnest to the force. With gratitude and pride we say thank you to Earnest Hayden today.”
Horton is encouraging people to let him know if they know someone who should be recognized.
“We want to recognize as many wonderful stories as possible during Black History Month and you can help,” the mayor posted. “Please share stories, and if there is someone you would like for me to feature, please send me a private message.”
— Heather Bell