UNION — A local church’s outreach foundation will host a Black History Celebration in the USC Union Auditorium this Saturday at 5 p.m.
Rev. Juanita Giles, Coordinator for the Antioch Outreach Foundation of the Antioch African Methodist Episcopal Church, said that the theme of the celebration will be “Connecting the Past to the Present.” She said the purpose of the celebration is to, first, recall and showcase the contributions African-Americans have made to Union County throughout history.
“We recognize and seek to show the diversified achievements of African-American leaders and their contribution to Union County,” Giles said. “Leaders who overcame opposition and recognized they too had a dream. We cannot know where we are going without knowing where we came from. We cannot forget.”
Giles said the program will honor the memories of local African-American leaders of the past such as Chester Ferguson, Paul Glenn, Dora Martin, and Janie Glymph Goree. She said the program will also recognize current African-American leaders in the fields of government (Union Mayor Harold Thompson, Carlisle Mayor Mary Ferguson-Glenn), business (Modest Keenan Jr. and Oscar Gist Sr.), education (UCHS Principal Floyd Lyles Jr., former teacher the Rev. Malachi Rodgers, and former teacher and coach Mickey Dean Gist), medicine (Dr. Natashia Jeter and Dr. Erica Savage-Jeter), and community (Ann Stevens and Carolyn Rutherford Harris).
The program will also feature musical performances provided by Fosters Chapel Church and Corinth Baptist Church.
Shamya Rice will recite Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.”
The event is semi-formal and those attending are asked to make a $10 donation. Giles said the donation will go toward the foundation’s outreach efforts and its goal of setting up a Black History Month scholarship.
Giles said the purpose of the celebration is to also to use the examples of the lives and contributions of past generations of African-Americans and the obstacles they faced and overcame to challenge today’s generation to live up to their heritage.
“The Black History Celebration is to ensure that the slaves and activists and martyrs did not dream and die in vain,” Giles said. “For in and through Black History the voices of the past speak to us personally. Calling us by name, asking us what we have done. What we are doing and what are we prepared to do. So it is not enough to honor the dead. We must redeem them by responding to the calls they address to us from troubled graves.
“Alexander Crumwell was right when he said, ‘We are a people God has preserved to do something with,’” she said. “So we will celebrate our history by honoring our own African-American leaders in Union County, whose strength of character lead them to enduring accomplishments. We will learn about their dreams in their own words and discover how they turned dreams into reality.”