Black History Month Celebrations Honor Past, Present, Future

Maria Hayes Around the Province

Ministries around the Province celebrated the African American community throughout February during Black History Month.

At St. Joseph Parish in Wilmington, Del., events were held every Sunday throughout February. The parish, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, is the oldest historically African American Catholic parish in the Diocese of Wilmington.

On the first Sunday, St. Joseph’s hosted a health screening for blood pressure and glucose, and performed stroke assessments. The nurses also provided valuable information about age-appropriate medical tests necessary for women and men, and heart attack symptoms for women.

“The event resulted in a life-saving activity for one of our young men, who was immediately transported to the emergency room,” Paul said. “He is now under a doctor’s care and is taking medication.”

The second Sunday’s event was postponed due to snow. Sr. Roger Thibodeaux, SBS, gave her rescheduled talk titled “Black Catholic History: Who Are We? Where Are We? What Do We Do?” on March 16.

On the third Sunday, St. Joseph’s school-aged parishioners took part in “Rise Up & Rebuild,” a program based on Kwanzaa.

“Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, nor is it meant to replace Christmas,” said Paul. “It is based on the year-end harvest festivals that have taken place throughout Africa for thousands of years.”

Black History Month at St. Joseph’s concluded with an informative presentation about the history of Negro Spirituals and a “delicious” soul food luncheon. “A good time was had by all,” said Paul.

At St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School in Greenville, S.C., students celebrated Black History Month with a special student program titled “Past, Present and Our Future.” They performed in front of a large audience in the new school gym, according to Susan Cinquemani, a member of the school’s mission advancement team.

“The program included a traditional African dance, a karate performance, and readings of Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou, and What the Black Man Wants by Frederick Douglass,” she said. “It also included a performance by the St. Anthony School mixed choir, boys’ choir, and recorder ensemble of Lift Every Voice as a musical tribute to Thomas Dorsey.”

Students also portrayed black historical figures, representing the past, present and future in a showcase honoring their contributions. One of those portrayed, South Carolina Representative Leola Robinson-Simpson, attended the event and shared a few words at the conclusion. She is pictured here with pastor Patrick Tuttle, OFM, and Jamia Johnson, the student who portrayed her.

In Athens, Ga., the Catholic Center at the University of Georgia presented the Seventh Annual Black History Celebration on Feb. 23. This year’s event included verse, music, story and history from 13 presenters within the university and Athens community, according to David Briones, director of religious education and coordinator of collegiate activities.

“Our special guest was Wanda White, personal secretary to Coretta Scott King,” he said. “David Hyman, OFM,campus minister and organizer for the event, said this was the best celebration we have had in his seven years of organizing.”

 Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.