A special part of Kinston history will be recognized on Saturday September 25. At 4 p.m. that day, the Kinston / Lenoir County African American Heritage Commission will unveil a marker commemorating the inscriptions Kinston had in The Negro Motorist Green Book. This book, compiled by Victor H. Green, provided a list of places African American travelers could go to eat, stay overnight, shop, and have their cars serviced and repaired.
The unveiling and unveiling of the marker will take place at the 400 block of South Queen Street at the African American Music Park. The Mayor of Kinston, Dontario Hardy, will welcome participants and Pastor Maurice Barnes of the White Rock Presbyterian Church will offer a prayer.
Councilor Sammy Aiken will introduce special guests and Geraldyne Barbour will tell the story of the Kinston / Lenoir County African American Heritage Commission. Lisa Withers will talk about the history of the marker project and the AACH’s local efforts to obtain and place the marker. Reverend Dorothy Gooding will introduce the members of AACH and Tina Bryant will deliver a closing thank you.
Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the Kinston Community Arts Council is sponsoring a free, open concert featuring Bill Myers and Dick Knight headlining. The concert is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. and last until 7:30 p.m.
Bill Myers and Dick Knight are no strangers to the Kinston-Lenoir County area.
Myers is a jazz musician and has led the group “The Monitors” for almost sixty years. In addition, he is a respected educator and civic leader. He is the Music Director of St. John AME Zion Church in Wilson.
Beginning as a young child playing the piano, Myers switched to drums in school, later switching to saxophone. He attended the State of Virginia and earned a Bachelor of Music degree. During his teenage years he performed in groups that performed in schools, bars, clubs and just about any place they could perform.
In 1957 he helped found his group, “The Monitors”, with Cleveland Flowe. Over the years, the group has been known throughout the region for their ability to play music for all occasions, although their main focus has been R&B, jazz, classical and even country and western.
Myers received a North Carolina Heritage Award in 2014 for his role as both a prolific musician and educator.
Dick Knight of Lenoir County is a professional multi-instrumental jazz, R&B, funk and soul musician who has performed with James Brown, Otis Redding, Dionne Warwick and Gladys Knight. He has taught and influenced countless students through his work as a conductor and music teacher in Florida and right here in Kinston.
Born and raised in Georgia, Knight attended Florida A&M University, where he majored in music and performed in the university’s famous marching band. He became the group principal at Savannah High School in Kinston after graduating from college at the age of 19. His first acquaintance with Kinston was Nat Jones, the musical director of James Brown. Jones quickly recruited Knight for the group. Passages with other popular recording artists quickly followed.
After retiring from teaching in 2007, Knight returned to performing. He loves Kinston and the freedom that retirement allows. He still trains every day and you can find him playing with “The Monitors” and his very own “Dick Knight Express”. He solo as Dick Knight the Captain, frequently playing cruise ships and waterfront businesses.