Resources for Celebrating Black History Month
- The founders of Black History month have selected a theme for 2016, Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories. Association for the study of African American life and history (ASALH) shares the meaning behind their push for setting aside a month of recognition for life, contributions and work of African Americans in our society.
- There are meetings statewide for Mission Mississippi, which has its focus on racial reconciliation. This organization is on a constant quest for engaging people across Mississippi in relationships leading to community conversations and actions that will tear down walls, and bring races together. There is a strong emphasis on not only accepting diversity, but embracing it as a gift from God.
- The General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) offers suggestions for churches even where diversity is not a daily experience.
- Global Ministries offer suggestions for incorporating song, reading and celebration in a worship setting.
- Last year a new hymnal was published containing 150 sacred hymns of the black church. The Africana Hymnal project has been awarded an Emmy for its work.
- Groups, such as Upper Room, will have special worship during the week, to remember the significance of Black History Month.
- Other suggestions for celebrating Black history month in a community context include pulpit swaps, joint worship between white and African American congregations, community gatherings for song, drama and shared history. The observance of Black History Month is not just in the religious context, but can also be shared in a context outside the church. Meridian, Mississippi is celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a march beginning at historic First Union Baptist Church and culminating in a community worship service at the church.
Other possible ways to celebrate have been suggested for both adults and children as follows:
At Haven Chapel United Methodist Church in Meridian, Mississippi the congregation wrote, directed and acted out a play titled "The Committee," which featured historical figures from all walks of life who were engaged in the Civil Rights movement. These included, Rosa Parks, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., popular song artist Sammy Cook and the mother of young Emmett Till who was murdered in 1955. This play was acted out in its entirety in February of 2015.
This year, Haven Chapel will focus on the power of the black church in the life of the community. Each week two people (one older and one younger) will share how their faith has been shaped during hard times by the presence of the black church. These expressions will focus on historic hymns and how music was also a sustaining factor for the black community. The pastor's sermons will tie Scripture in with the faithful actions of heroic people who sometimes paid the ultimate price for a small share of freedom. The month will close with a black history program featuring drama, song and readings from Sojourner Truth and others.
We celebrate the heroes/heroines of black history and highlight their contributions, but this is not just about the renown of the civil rights era. It is also about those who may not have been included in the history books.