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Let your voice be heard

I have always been known as a “quiet” person amongst friends and acquaintances. This is partially because I usually prefer to listen when in large groups instead of contributing to conversations and partially because my voice is just naturally quiet. I’ve lost count the number of times someone has asked me to speak up when I was just talking naturally.

“But this IS my normal speaking voice,” I often protest.

You can probably guess how my quiet voice can sometimes affect my life. Often, I have to repeat myself because no one heard me the first time. Occasionally, I get overlooked because it’s easy to forget the person who doesn’t speak up.

I’m not really complaining about this because I’m used to it. It’s a fact of my life that I simply deal with, and so it doesn’t really bother me anymore. I don’t let it hold me back.

Recently, however, I was thinking about how a quiet voice might be a good metaphor for Northeastern North Carolina.

We’ve all heard it said that this part of the state is often overlooked and forgotten. Just this past week, I was reading an article in our newspaper about J. Wendell Hall being sworn in as the newest member of the state Board of Education. He’s the first from Hertford County to hold this position.

Hertford County Board of Education Chair David Shields was quoted in that story saying, “Our part of the state is often forgotten, but I can assure you that Mr. Hall is not going to Raleigh to be quiet.”

The first part of that sentence is the key I want to focus on here. It’s a phrase I’ve heard echoed many times growing up in this part of the state, and I’ve heard it many times talking to local people in just the few years I’ve worked for the newspaper. We’re forgotten by everyone.

I have to say the sentiment often seems to ring true. It does feel like the rest of North Carolina thinks of Northeastern NC as a vast wasteland of nothingness. Just something to drive through quickly on your way to the beach. No reason to stop and smell the roses, as they say.

I follow a couple of different news and touristy organizations (who shall remain nameless here) who claim to cover all of North Carolina, but I’m often disappointed in their definition of the word “all.” It’s rare that I see anything in the Roanoke-Chowan area mentioned. So while it’s nice for me to learn more about profiles of interesting people and places across the rest of the state, I wish some of them would shine a spotlight on us here too.

Contrary to popular belief, our little northeastern corner of the state does have plenty of things to offer. Mom and Pop restaurants serving up delicious special dishes, historical sites telling the unique stories of our ancestors, artwork from talented locals scattered everywhere you look, excellent views of nature no matter what area you’re traveling through. And I could continue on and on with more examples.

Sure, the mountains and the coast are giant tourist attractions, and the central part of the state is where a good chunk of people live. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have anything to offer too. The Roanoke-Chowan area isn’t as stagnant and unchanging as some would have you believe.

I think we just have to keep talking about our part of the state—over and over again, repeatedly, ceaselessly—until others finally start listening. I know it’s frustrating to not be heard, and I know it’s tiring to try to speak louder. But I believe that’s what we need to do. We can’t give up yet.

Let’s not be forgotten and overlooked anymore.

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com 252-332-7206.