VHS team wins African-American Quiz Bowl

Published 11:58 pm Saturday, February 25, 2012

The question seemed easy enough, but it was causing the five-member Madison High School Jaguar team from Tallulah to pause and discuss it.

The question? Who is responsible for creating Black History Month?

In the end, neither the Jaguars, nor their opponents, a team from Calvary Baptist Church in Vicksburg, were able to answer. But the predominantly adult audience got it right — African-American historian, author and journalist Carter G. Woodson.

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The question about Woodson was one of a battery of questions that moderator Bobbie Bingham Morrow, a management analyst with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, presented to the Jaguars, Calvary Baptist and the “Green Tails” team from Vicksburg High School during the 2012 African-American Quiz Bowl Saturday morning at the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library.

The Green Tails won the quiz bowl, with Madison High finishing second.

The quiz bowl also included a brief address from Wayne Thompson, owner of Vicksburg Ford, who challenged the students to dream, set goals, make positive decisions, develop plans to achieve their goals and learn from failure as part of the road to that goal

Assistant library director Jennifer Smith said the quiz bowl was the idea of a library patron who saw a similar program several years ago at the Hattiesburg Library.

“She thought it was a good program for Vicksburg to do,” she said.

The three teams each consisted of four members and alternate. Each team was asked six questions during a session, or heat, with a minute to answer each question.

If a team missed an answer, their opponent had the option to take the question and try to answer it. At the end of a heat, one team took a break while the other faced a new opponent. Each team met each other twice.

“There were a lot of (questions about) older people that we didn’t know,” said Green Tail member Raymond Banks, 17, a senior at Vicksburg High and the son of Ray and Jakki Banks. “Those were tough.”

Raymond and team member Alex Green, 17, another senior and the daughter of Valerie Green and Dewayne Smith, said the team prepared for the quiz bowl for about two weeks.

“There were a lot of things we learned that we never thought of,” Raymond said. He said the hardest question was about the poet Margaret Walker Alexander, who wrote “For My People.”

The question about Alexander was one of many asked about black authors. Other questions covered history, entertainment, sports, music and fashion.

And plenty of Vicksburg trivia, like the name of Vicksburg’s first black mayor — Robert Walker; or the city’s five Mississippi Blues Trail markers — U.S. 61 South, Marcus Bottom, the Red Tops, The Blue Room and Willie Dixon. Other Vicksburg topics included a question about Beulah Cemetery, Vicksburg native and musician Hank Jones, and Academy Award nominee and Vicksburg native Beah Richards, who played Sidney Poitier’s mother in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” She also won two Emmy awards for television acting.

The question about Richards stumped the teams from Calvary Baptist and the Jaguars. Calvary team member Darius Bridges, 17, a senior at Warren Central High School and the son of Tara and Nicholas Bridges, said the questions was one of the toughest ones his team faced.

He said the team practiced one day a week for about three weeks to prepare for the bowl.

“I was nervous, but now I’m fine and ready to go,” he said after the team’s first heat against Madison High. “It was a great experience.”

Madison ninth-grader Hope Travis, 14, the daughter of Dawn Turner, said her team practiced for two weeks.

“The questions about Vicksburg were the hardest, especially the one about the cemetery,” she said. “But it’s been exciting. I’ve learned a lot.”

Her teammate, Nicole Davis, 18, a senior at Madison and the daughter of Tracy Davis and Mayor Bechwith Jr., said she learned a lot about African-American History that she didn’t know, adding that she learned that former U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm of New York was the first black to run for president.

“This has been a good experience,” said Ada White, 15, a sophomore at VHS and the daughter of Maxine Allen. “I learned a lot about Vicksburg and Mississippi. It was interesting, and I’ll be ready next year.”