CELEBRATING OUR HERITAGE
We glorify God who has blessed us to enter into the second month of this year, for we can never take life for granted since tomorrow is not promised to anyone. The existence of the United States of America is officially only 244 years, for the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the US Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. By the grace of God, our nation has experienced a lot of success in such a short period, and African Americans have contributed immensely to our country’s success. Black people came to the United States as slaves and were forced to labor diligently for a pittance, not to mention the abuse our ancestors endured. African Americans are responsible for classic books, small businesses, films, sports, inventions (that we can’t imagine life without) and so much more.
Being contributors rather than only consumers, African Americans are worthy of recognition, so thank God February is more than the month of love. February is Black History Month. It all started with a man named Carter G. Woodson—a Harvard educated historian who wrote “The Journal of Negro History” in 1916, which chronicled the overlooked achievements of African Americans. In this journal, Woodson sought to amplify Black people’s success and spread his findings to a wider audience. In 1926, Woodson became primarily responsible for officially declaring the second week of February to be “Negro History Week,” and this was chosen and celebrated for years because of the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln on February 12th and Frederick Douglass on February 14th.
Frederick Douglass was born into slavery but later escaped, and he became a Black American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer and statesman. He became one of the most famous intellectuals of his time, advising presidents and lecturing to thousands on a range of causes, including women’s rights.
Abraham Lincoln contributed to the freedom of Black people in this country when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 which declared “that all persons held as slaves are and henceforward shall be free.” Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican President of the United States, and Republicans fought for the rights of Black people which is why many African Americans were Republicans in those days. More Black people became Democrats in 1948 when Democrat President Harry Truman appealed for new civil rights measures from Congress which included voter protections, a federal ban on lynching and bolstered existing civil rights laws; consequently, President Truman (who succeeded President Franklin D. Roosevelt) got 77% of Black people’s votes. Even more Black people became Democrats in 1964-1968, but we should still be mindful that Black people were not always predominantly Democrats.
As a result of the civil rights movements in the late 1960s, Black History Week became Black History Month. By 1976, President Gerald Ford declared February to be officially Black History Month calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Everyone should honor and celebrate February as Black History Month. President Barack Obama said in his 2016 speech: “It’s about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America. It’s about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can create a better future. It’s a reminder of where we as a country have been so that we know where we need to go.”
More importantly, every Christian should honor and celebrate The Lord’s Supper. Luke 22:19-20 reads: “And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” We can partake online this Sunday in The Lord’s Supper at 8:00 am and/or 1:30 pm (for more information, visit our website at sjmbc.org).
Last but not least, please continue to support St. John financially. We give currently by mailing or dropping off our Tithes and Offerings to our St. John South Campus (662 South 52nd Street—Richmond, CA 94804) or by giving online through our website (sjmbc.org).
May God bless and sustain each of us.
Your Servant In Christ,
Dr. Kevin B. Hall