Churches celebrate black history

Published 11:41 pm Friday, February 4, 2011

A variety of local churches will celebrate Black History Month beginning tomorrow, all part of an effort to ensure that African Americans in Suffolk maintain a connection to those who were here long ago.

The Senior Missionary Ministry at Mt. Sinai Baptist Church will hold a Candlelight Concert featuring musician Michaux Edgar Dotson from Franklin at 3 p.m. Sunday. “It’s going to be specifically dedicated to black history,” said Crystal Copeland, president of the senior missionary ministry at Mt. Sinai.

The event will feature early gospel music through contemporary music.

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“For slaves, music was all they had to communicate with each other,” she said. “It is part of our heritage and culture to celebrate it.”

East End Baptist Church held a special musical event on Friday night, but it also will be featuring a special Bible study called “Black in America” on Wednesday nights and hosting an event organized by the Suffolk Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

“You have to keep the culture alive,” Delta Sigma Theta member Gail Hinton-Copeland said. “One month is not enough.”

A Delta sorority event at East End Baptist Church on Feb. 27 at 4 p.m. will feature youth performing pantomime dancing, reading poetry by African American authors, singing gospel and spirituals and more.

Sorority members will portray famous black women in history, providing the audience with clues as to their identity. The sorority also will display artwork from local artists and perform songs by famous African-American female artists. They will provide samples of ethnic foods including collard greens, black-eyed peas, sweet potatoes, corn bread, bread pudding, and pigs’ feet.

East End Baptist also will host a “Black in America” Bible study. This event is less about history and more about issues the black church is facing now.

“Throughout the Civil Rights Movement black churches were extremely relevant. The core question is ‘Is the black church still relevant?’” said Milton Liverman, minister of education at East End.

“If it is relevant, this is an avenue to understand and explore where we stand on these issues,” he said. “The historical stance will come into discussion, but it is not the core. The core is what we need to do right now.”

This event, which is open to the public, will be held from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

“I don’t want to ever forget my ancestors, my culture, and heritage,” said Crystal Copeland. “It deserves to be celebrated every day. For me it is celebrated every day.”