St. James honors lesser-known leaders


Many items used commonly in daily life were invented by African-Americans. Those lesser known, but important folks were the focus of Black History Month at Columbus St. James United Methodist Church.

While the church recognized and celebrated the lives of the stalwarts of the African-American legacy such as Martin Luther King, Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. Dubois, Booker T. Washington and Sojourner Truth, leaders also focused other contributors to the African American experience in America. Of the many notable African Americans over the years, some featured in this years’ celebration were:

• Sen. Hiram Rhodes Revels (R-Miss.), the first African American elected to the United States Senate in 1870
• Bishop Daniel Payne, president of Wilberforce College, the first African-American owned and operated college in the U.S. (1863)
• A.J. Beard, inventor of the first rotary engine (patented 1892)
• G.F. Grant, inventor of the golf tee (patented 1899)
• F.M. Jones, inventor of the air conditioning unit (patented 1949), the two-cycle gasoline engine (patented 1950) and a thermostat and temperature control system (patented 1960).

In a skit, the church celebrated biblical characters of African descent. Portrayed by the youth and adults of the congregation were biblical characters Hagar and Ketura (concubines of Abraham), Ham (son of Noah), Makeda (the queen of Sheba) and Jethro (a Midian priest and father-in-law of Moses).

The celebration also included a static display of African-American art, crafts, clothing and items of the olden days.