North Texas Daily

Church reflects and learns about African-American History Month over weekend

Church reflects and learns about African-American History Month over weekend

Church reflects and learns about African-American History Month over weekend
February 24
10:57 2014

Dana Pisciottano // Intern Writer

St. James A.M.E. Church hosted its third annual African-American History Month Celebration February 22 to 23.

The theme for this year’s celebration was “Civil Rights in America,” remembering the last 50 years since the Civil Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

St. James Pastor Mason Rice has been with the church for three years. Upon his arrival he and Mary Taylor, a member of the St. James A.M.E. Planning Committee and director of the Social Action Commission, began planning their first African-American History Month Celebration.

“We were finally able to get the seed planted,” he said, “It has taken growth and is growing.”

The event, held at St. James A.M.E. Church, commenced Saturday morning with a prayer led by Alma Clark, a member of the congregation. Many local organizations gave presentations, including the Denton County Health Department and the North Texas African Food Market.

While presentations were occurring, a health fair was held inside the church’s Fellowship Hall. The fair offered members of the Denton community free blood pressure tests and vision screenings.

“Really, Civil Rights started in a church, in the African-American church. Dr. Martin Luther King was a minister,” said Taylor. “This notion of equality all of this started in a church because we didn’t really have a meeting place.”

Denton County Health Department members Kamilah Hasan and Craig Humphrey started off the speaker presentations.

African-Americans have the highest number of death rates from heart disease among any other race, Hasan said. Hasan and Humphrey discussed the importance of nutritional eating and physical activity to help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Saibatu and Joseph Kanu gave a presentation on traditional African soul food. Saibatu was born in Sierra Leone and moved to the United States in 2000. The married couple recently opened the North Texas African Food Market, which offers African food staples that were previously difficult to find.

Members of the congregation then presented a Civil Rights timeline. The timeline highlighted keystone events that have taken place throughout the last 50 years.

African-American History Month is a reflection of the past, Rubylene Clark said, who is a trustee of St. James and has been a member of the church her whole life.

“It helps remind people of our history, and to educate and remind folks of our history and our struggles,” she said.

The celebration of African-American History Month continued on Sunday. Hymns were sung by members from local churches and organizations. Poetry was recited and more African-American history was presented to the more than 100 people who passed through the church this weekend.

“African-American History Month brings our community together to learn education pieces about our people because it’s our story,” Rice said. “We get the opportunity to tell it, not only in this month, but this story has to be told each and every month.”

Feature photo: Saibatu Kanu and her husband Joseph Kanu prepare a plate of traditional African food for church members attending the third annual African American History Month Celebration. Photo by Dana Pisciottano / Intern Photographer  

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