On Sunday the Ebenezer Baptist Church on Maple Street hosted the final event of a three-day annual Black History Month celebration organized by South Central Kingsport Community Development Inc. and the New Vision Youth.
The three-day celebration began Friday with a Soul Food Gathering at the Riverview Community Room; followed by a field trip Saturday for the New Vision Youth group to the Price Public Community Center and newly renovated Swift College Museum in Rogersville.
Sunday afternoon, SCKCD and New Vision Youth presented its “2013 Annual Black History Program” with special keynote speaker Marion Smith, an educator from Atlanta, Ga.
The Ebenezer Baptist Church sanctuary was filled to capacity for Smith whose lecture covered significant moments in African-American history from the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, which is marking its 150th anniversary this year; up to the 1963 Civil Rights march on Washington, D.C., also marking a significant anniversary this year.
Smith said it would be doing our forefathers a disservice to sugarcoat history. The 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation have been filled with tremendous struggles, and too many tragedies and injustices for African-Americans on the road to equality.
“I think we all can take solace in the fact that was part of where we are today,” Smith told the congregation. “When we look at where we are today, and the president of the United States is an African-American — that’s pride, whether you’re white, black, whoever you are, because we made some gains. Despite the things that held us back, we made some gains.”
The New Vision Youth were the star attraction of Sunday’s event, however, providing a recitation of black history moments, as well as songs performed by their choir.
The event also featured vocal performances by the New Beginnings Fellowship Choir; as well as a dance performance by New Beginnings Fellowship.
In closing his historical lecture, Smith turned his back on the audience to face the New Vision Youth who were seated in the choir pews behind the stage.
“You all have a direct connection to the people I am talking about and the people you will study about,” he told the youth group. “If it had not been for them, you wouldn’t have had the opportunities that you have today. I challenge you to have new visions, and I challenge you to be curious and go back and check the facts I’ve mentioned today, and to be creative yourselves.”
Smith added, “And feel good about yourselves. That’s the message.”