ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) -- The Norfolk & Western/Norfolk Southern African American Heritage Group will honor the contributions of the men and women who worked for the railroad in the Jim Crow south amid racial discrimination on Saturday. "They worked under intense pressure in jobs that were often the most dangerous and dirty," said John Nutter, Secretary-Treasurer of the Heritage Group. "But the jobs brought a decent wage that afforded a house, car, and education for their children. They laid the groundwork for their children and grandchildren the opportunities to move into management and leadership positions."
The annual event is held at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, a building with historical significance to the Group.
Before the building housed the Virginia Museum of Transportation, it served as the freight station for Norfolk & Western where many of the Group's founding members worked.
The Museum now features the exhibit "Cotton to Silk," that chronicles the experiences, ambition, accomplishments, and pride of Norfolk & Western's black employees.
The Virginia Museum of Transportation is honored to be associated with the Norfolk and Western/Norfolk Southern African American Heritage Group," said Robert Sigman, executive director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation. "Their oral histories provide insight into life on the railroad during the years of dynamic change in working conditions and civil rights for people of color."
The Heritage Celebration Program is from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
It will include music and a vocal presentation of the Jerusalem Baptist Church, invocation by Rev. Donald Shovely, recognition of the contributions of Alphonso Twine and Eddie Wallace and a special presentation by Clarence Turpin III.