Sorority’s annual Black History program takes a journey back

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 24, 2005

There’s a saying that if you listen very closely at nighttime in the Dismal Swamp, you can still hear the moaning of slaves. You can still hear the cries of babies. You might even be able to pick up the sound of barking dogs, sent out on the trail of those trying to escape.

It’s the live memories of the Underground Railroad, a network of paths used by slaves to reach the river, where they might find a boat to take them back to freedom in their homeland.

On Feb. 6, members of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority will take a step back toward one of the darkest periods of American history, one from which they emerged proud.

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The local alumni chapter will hold its annual Black History Month Celebration at 4 p.m. at the First Baptist Church. The event will begin with a Negro spiritual performance by Earlene Davis-Lee and the Second Chance choir. Mikhail Coker will present a brief history of slavery in the Swamp and the Underground Railroad.

The menu will be just as the slaves ate: pigs feet, chitlins, black-eyed peas, collard green, cabbage and bread pudding. Lemon-sweetened water will be served in Mason jars.

&uot;It’s ironic that food like that is considered a delicacy now,&uot; sorority arts and letters chairman Lulu Holland said with a laugh. &uot;The slaves ate things that were thrown away.

&uot;This is important for those who have heard about (slavery) from their parents or grandparents, and for those that don’t know about it so they can experience where they came from.&uot;

Back during slavery times, she said, &uot;Slaves would cover themselves in mud to keep warm. Sometimes, they weren’t allowed to talk, so they would moan songs to God, because He knew what they were singing and where they needed to be.

&uot;They survived with the help of the Lord.&uot;